[Tweeters] latest science magazine has another swift article

dave templeton crazydave65 at gmail.com
Tue Oct 8 14:48:37 PDT 2013


apparently swifts have been the object of research of late as results keep
popping up in the media. the science mag for 10/8 has a piece on alpine
swifts which says in part (claiming fair use provisions of copyright law):

Talk about a long flight. The Alpine swift (*Tachymarptis melba*) can
remain on the wing for more than 6 months, a new study suggests. These
20-centimeter-long, insect-eating birds breed in mountains ranging from
southern Europe to the Himalayas. In 2011, researchers strapped tiny
instrument packages on six swifts to track their activity during their
winter migration to western Africa. Those instruments measured the
intensity of light (which, by detecting sunrise and sunset, allowed
researchers to infer each bird’s latitude and longitude) and used
accelerometers to gauge the animals’ activity level during a 3.2-second
window every 4 minutes, day or night. The team recovered three of the
sensor-laden swifts in spring 2012, when the birds returned to Europe for
the nesting season. Analyses revealed that never roosted while in africa
the researchers report today in *Nature Communications*. At night, even
though the birds' body position didn't change very much, their activity
level suggested they were gliding, not resting on a perch—which strongly
suggests that the birds were catching a bit of shuteye while aloft. During
the course of their African jaunt, and as much as 200 days spent aloft, the
birds likely flew a total of 10,000 kilometers, the researchers estimate.
Stretched into a straight line, that distance is about one-fourth of the
way around Earth’s equator.

dave templeton
fall city, wa


"Don't worry about the world coming to an end today; it's already tomorrow
in Australia." Charles Schultz
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