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Chimney Swifts in Flight | by Bonnie Ott
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Chimney Swifts in Flight

"Chimney Swifts spend their lives airborne, except when they are roosting or on the nest. They perform aerial courtship displays within 2 weeks of arriving on their North American breeding grounds, forming monogamous pairs for the season. In one of the best known displays, two birds fly close together, calling; first the rear bird and then the leader snaps its wings into a V-shape and the two glide together in a downward curve. Unmated birds roost together in large flocks, sometimes even in a chimney occupied by a nesting pair. Often an unmated helper may assist a breeding pair with rearing the young. After the young fledge, small groups of parents and young from several chimneys join larger staging flocks in bigger chimneys nearby. At the end of summer they gather into large groups to migrate to South America. During migration, as many as 10,000 swifts may circle in a tornado-like flock at dusk and funnel into a roosting chimney to spend the night. The lives of these widespread urban birds are surprisingly unstudied, because of their inaccessible nesting and roosting sites and their aerial lifestyle." Cornell

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Taken on October 12, 2016