Date: 7/31/20 1:34 pm From: Beverly Wolf <Bev_Wolf...> Subject: RE: [birders] Essay on Swifts and an OT connection
About 20 years ago my husband and I were in Peru on a Sierra Club outing. We added on an independent trip to the Colca Canyon for the sole purpose of seeing the Andean Condor. We arrived at the Cruze del Condor, the favored location over the Colca Canyon for viewing the Condors at about 7 AM. The canyon drops fairly straight down for about 2 miles. At the time, this was the deepest known canyon in the world, but it has since lost that status. We were told to wait and watch. And within an hour a beautiful, huge condor floated up above the rim of the canyon. And it floated on the thermals while we watched enthralled. The bird is amazing, and we never saw it flap. The theme of the Andean Condor was evident in all of the archaeological sites we visited. That experience and the memory of the Condor floating upward will always stay with me.
From: Randall Messick <randy.e.messick...>
Sent: Friday, July 31, 2020 3:09 PM
To: <juliet.berger...>; BIRDERS@UMICH <birders...>
Cc: Leonard Sander <lsander...>; Lisa Lava-Kellar <lisalk...>; Linda Berauer <lberauer...>; John C Farmer <ajf-jlf...>; 'Mike Sefton' via Birders <birders...>
Subject: Re: [birders] Essay on Swifts and an OT connection
With all the talk of bird flight, I just have to share this article that Andean Condors have been discovered to flap wings less than 1% of the time they are aloft.
As you suspected, swifts always go to roost at night, on a vertical surface, such as a chimney interior, an old hollow tree, or a wall of a building, if hit by a sudden storm. They don't fly non-stop their whole life, but, they definitely can't perch.
We know they all gather together for warmth to roost on late summer and early autumn nights, and stage for migration in these roosts. I can't wait to read the essay as well as the NYT John Lewis piece.
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.