Is It True Swifts Can't Take Off From The Ground?

Common Swift

Many people believe that if you see a swift on the ground you should pick it up and throw it into the air, as it is unable to take off from the ground.

But actually swifts are able to take off from the ground. Although swifts have very short legs in relation to their body size a healthy, adult swift should have no problem taking off from the ground pushing off with its long wings.

However, the surface must be smooth and flat to gives its wings room to flap; they cannot take off from long grass for example.

Despite this healthy swifts rarely land and fly for very long periods of time, eating, drinking, sleeping and even mating as they do so.

It is only breeding swifts that must land to build their nests and lay eggs. Most swifts have their first breeding season when they are 3 or 4 years old so a young swift may have stayed in the air permanently for 2-3 years.

Swifts’ nests need to have a clear space in front of them so they can fly directly into the entrance hole without touching the sides.

If you do find a swift on the ground do not pick it up and throw it as you could injure the bird. Leave it for a while and it should eventually fly away.

Alternatively, pick it up very gently and it should fly away from your outstretched arm. Move your arm up and down so it can feel the air beneath its wings. You could also take it to an upstairs window but again, do not throw it out; leave it on your hand until it flies off by itself.

If it looks as though it is sick then contact a vet of your local bird sanctuary who should be able to help.

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