• picture
  • picture
  • picture
  • picture
Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

BirdNote®/ White-throated Swifts

Air Date: Week of

White-throated swifts sail through the air. As BirdNote®’s Mary McCann tells us, they’re one of the world’s fastest birds. Photo: A white-throated swift in flight. (© Greg Lavaty)



GELLERMAN: Today's Birdnote® takes us to the U.S. West - and profiles a bird that delights many who hike the region’s canyons. Here's Mary McCann.


MCCANN: A torrent of shrill notes ricochets off the sheer, stone walls of a Western canyon.


MCCANN: A pair of White-throated Swifts careens by at high speed, revealing boldly patterned bodies. They twist and turn, sailing through the air on black, scimitar-shaped wings spanning 15 inches. Dashing headlong across the canyon toward an unyielding wall, the birds disappear at the last second into a slender crevice.


A white-throated swift approaches a nest crevice. (© Howie Richardson)

MCCANN: This swift is aptly named – and doubly so. Flying at tremendous speed, the White-throated Swift is indeed swift, among the fastest of all birds. And its lyrical, scientific name suits it perfectly: Aeronautes saxatalis* – sailor of the air who dwells in the rocks.


MCCANN: Swifts leave the air only to nest or roost in a cavity. You’ll never see one perched. They do everything else while airborne. Ornithologist Percy Taverner said of them, “When mating, a pair meet…high in the air, cling together as though embracing for a moment …drop down hundreds of feet, then separate and catch themselves on their wings…”


GELLERMAN: Mary McCann of BirdNote®. For some great photos swoop over to our website – loe.org.



White-throated Swift sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Recorded by R.S. Little.

BirdNote®/White-throated swifts was written by Bob Sundstrom.


Living on Earth wants to hear from you!

Living on Earth
62 Calef Highway, Suite 212
Lee, NH 03861
Telephone: 617-287-4121
E-mail: comments@loe.org

Newsletter [Click here]

Donate to Living on Earth!
Living on Earth is an independent media program and relies entirely on contributions from listeners and institutions supporting public service. Please donate now to preserve an independent environmental voice.

Living on Earth offers a weekly delivery of the show's rundown to your mailbox. Sign up for our newsletter today!

Sailors For The Sea: Be the change you want to sea.

Creating positive outcomes for future generations.

Innovating to make the world a better, more sustainable place to live. Listen to the race to 9 billion

The Grantham Foundation for the Protection of the Environment: Committed to protecting and improving the health of the global environment.

Contribute to Living on Earth and receive, as our gift to you, an archival print of one of Mark Seth Lender's extraordinary wildlife photographs. Follow the link to see Mark's current collection of photographs.

Buy a signed copy of Mark Seth Lender's book Smeagull the Seagull & support Living on Earth