Date: March 6, 2019
Source: Lund University
"They eat and sleep while they are airborne. This is something that researchers have believed since the 1950s, and now we can show that it's true," says Anders Hedenström, professor at the Department of Biology at Lund University.
Three years ago, the same research team at Lund University observed that within the species common swift, (Apus apus) there were individuals that live in the air for up to ten consecutive months without landing -- a world record for being airborne. A different research team has also shown that the alpinep swift could live largely in the air.
In the current study, Anders Hedenström and his colleagues Susanne Åkesson, Gabriel Norevik, Arne Andersson and Johan Bäckman at Lund University, and Giovanni Boano from Italy, studied four individuals of the species pallid swift (Apus pallidus). The results show that the birds are in the air without landing for between two and three and a half months, depending on the individual.
Using micro-data loggers attached to the birds, the researchers measured movement when the wings flap. The loggers record activity every five minutes, and the bird's location once a month. Using this method, the researchers have been able to ascertain that the birds live for months at a time in the air during the winter months, the period of the year they spend in West Africa after the breeding season in Italy.