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&regi_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.



JF

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