Date: 7/30/20 8:57 am From: John Farmer <ajf-jlf...> Subject: [birders] Essay on Swifts and an OT connection
A lyrical essay on Swifts in today's NYT (here <https://www.nytimes.com/2020/07/29/magazine/vesper-flights.html?campaign_id =9&emc=edit_nn_20200730&instance_id=20794&nl=the-morning®i_id=73744212&se gment_id=34737&te=1&user_id=d635218edb5785eb5289c336dd5362a7> ) by Helen Macdonald, the author of H is for Hawk, may interest some birders. It set me to wondering if I may be the only person on this listserve who had not heard of the swifts' "vesper flight" that she details.
I also question her statement that ".As soon as they tip themselves free of the nest hole, they start flying, and they will not stop flying for two or three years, bathing in rain, feeding on airborne insects, winnowing fast and low to scoop fat mouthfuls of water from lakes and rivers." Despite the fact that she provides references to many aspects of the vesper flights of Europe's Common Swifts, that sentence seems to spring from the common folklore that portrayed swifts as spending their entire lives on the wing. Does anyone know if there is any research to back up that quoted statement?
And here I'm definitely going OT, but IMHO, the final paragraph in Macdonald's essay is a haunting, if unintended, link to another piece in today's NYT - the poignant swan song of the late Congressman John Lewis.