Swift in flight (c) Mandy West

Common swift

Common swifts are gregarious birds that nest, roost, migrate and hunt in groups. They favour a life on the wing and are unique in their ability to stay airborne for extended periods, spending entire days aloft and only landing to feed young or roost. Swifts fly at least 560 miles per day during the nesting season. They also mate and forage whilst in the air. Their specially adapted grasping feet allow them to occupy vertical surfaces such as chimneys, which other birds would have difficulty inhabiting.

How to identify swifts, swallows and martins.

Scientific name: Apus apus

Rank: Species

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Map showing the distribution of the Common swift taxa

Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.

The Common swift can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, China, Europe, Mediterranean, Russia, United Kingdom, Wales. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.


The following habitats are found across the Common swift distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Conservation Status

Least Concern

  1. EX - Extinct
  2. EW
  3. CR - Threatened
  4. EN - Threatened
  5. VU - Threatened
  6. NT
  7. LC - Least concern

Year assessed: 2009

Classified by: IUCN 3.1


  1. Life
  2. Animals
  3. Vertebrates
  4. Birds
  5. Swifts and hummingbirds
  6. Apodidae
  7. Apus
  8. Common swift

BBC News about Common swift