Swift

Swift

Nearly 20, see text.

The swifts are a family, Apodidae, of highly aerial birds. They are superficially similar to swallows, but are actually not closely related to passerine species at all; swifts are in the separate order Apodiformes, which they share with hummingbirds. The treeswifts are closely related to the true swifts, but form a separate family, the Hemiprocnidae.

The resemblances between swifts and swallows are due to convergent evolution, reflecting similar life styles based on catching insects in flight.

The family scientific name comes from the Ancient Greek απους, apous, meaning "without feet", since swifts have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, clinging instead to vertical surfaces. The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as seen in the heraldic martlet.

Read more about Swift:  Description, Systematics and Evolution

Famous quotes containing the word swift:

    As with a moral view designed
    To cure the vices of mankind;
    His vein, ironically grave,
    Exposed the fool, and lashed the knave;
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

    I will venture to affirm, that the three seasons wherein our corn has miscarried did no more contribute to our present misery, than one spoonful of water thrown upon a rat already drowned would contribute to his death; and that the present plentiful harvest, although it should be followed by a dozen ensuing, would no more restore us, than it would the rat aforesaid to put him near the fire, which might indeed warm his fur-coat, but never bring him back to life.
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

    It is a maxim among these lawyers, that whatever hath been done before, may legally be done again: and therefore they take special care to record all the decisions formerly made against common justice and the general reason of mankind.
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)