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:

    Sad that our finest aspiration
    Our freshest dreams and meditations,
    In swift succession should decay,
    Like Autumn leaves that rot away.
    Alexander Pushkin (1799–1837)

    We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)

    I have been assured by a very knowing American of my acquaintance in London, that a young healthy child, well nursed, is at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food, whether stewed, roasted, baked, or boiled; and I make no doubt that it will equally serve in a fricassee, or a ragout.
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)