More horrifying birds!
Swifts somehow manage to suggest bats or spiders even while very clearly being birds, and they fucking dare you to do something about it, bro. Dare you. Seriously, look at those faces. They’ll fucking cut you, given half a chance.
Swifts have stumpy little legs and feet with all four toes pointing forward. Chimney swifts have normal bird-feet, except that they can rotate their back toe forward when they’re grabbing onto things. Their normal perching posture is clinging to a vertical surface with their weird little claws, and they won’t land on something horizontal if they can help it. They’re fucking fantastic at flying, and they migrate at the drop of a hat. Cave swiftlets are one of only two known birds who can echolocate. (The other bird is oilbirds, who also nest in caves.) Unlike bats, their vocalizations occur within the range of normal human hearing. Like bats, it’s freaky as fuck that they can do that. Also like bats, they can go into a near-hibernation state called torpor to ride out a cold snap. Unlike bats who hibernate, but like bats who migrate, this is not their preferential method of dealing with winter, and they can’t keep it up for long.
What’s also freaky as fuck is how they nest. See that nest up there? The one that’s just cantilevered onto the side of a fucking building? It’s glued there with swift-spit. This bird can spit glue. Some swifts make their entire nests of out of spit. Most of them just use their crazyglue mucous to paste twigs to the wall and then stick the twigs together. During nesting season, breeding adults’ salivary glands can more than double in size to supply them with nesting putty, a fact which is both confusing and enraging, because oh my god bird spit. Like we don’t put up with enough from these guys being able to fly and having super-weird feet and echolocation, now they have the ability to ramp up production of their special-purpose spit.
Just like, fucking whatever, swifts.
Above: Pygmy swiftlet, because some of them are very small.
Excellent birds, swifts. And I love their feet.
The white-throated needletail is also the fastest bird in level flight. Bastards go over 100 mph not diving. Peregrine falcons think they suck.