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An Amazing Bird, Common Swift, Can Fly For 10 Months On End Without Landing

First Posted: Oct 31, 2016 05:30 AM EDT
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Scientists discovered a tiny bird known as Common Swift, Apus Apus,  can fly for 10 months straight without landing. It is another world record beating the Alpine swift, Tachymarptis melba that could stay on the air for 200 days straight.

The findings were described in Current Biology. The study was led by researchers from the Lund University in Sweden. They said that three of the birds stayed on the air for 10 months, according to Science Alert.

Anders Hedenstrom, one of the researchers, said that this discovery significantly pushes the boundaries of what they know about animal physiology. "A 10-month flight phase is the longest we know of any bird species--- it's a record."

In the study, the researchers monitored 13 common swifts using tiny light sensors and accelerometers loaded into backpacks they attached to the birds for two years. The light sensors could geolocate the birds by tracing the time of sunrise and sunset. Meanwhile, the accelerometers traced the beating of the swift's wings and the speed of their forward movement. With these, the researchers could gauge how far and fast the birds traveled and the amount of time they spent on the ground, according to NDTV.

The study indicates that the common swifts traveled from Northern Europe to Central Africa and back each year. They had spent 99.5 percent of their migration in the air. Hedenstrom said that it is minuscule, the time they spend resting. The researchers said that when they did touch down for an hour or two on a tree or ground. Then, they back into the air again.

On the other hand, they discovered that three of the 13 birds never landed at all. They spent flying for over 10,000 miles without rest. The common swift is the only bird, not even the frigate bird could spend long in the sky.

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