A SWIFT NIGHT OUT: Flying Cigars over Farmington

WILDER SIDE OF OAKLAND COUNTY

Chimney Swifts (Chaetura pelagica) are masters of the sky. These enigmatic smudge-gray colored aerial artists are sometimes referred to as “Flying Cigars” because of their appearance in flight. They are almost always airborne, unless sleeping. Unlike most bird species, you will never see a Chimney Swift perched on a branch, or standing on the ground. Their evolutionary path led to sleek wings and fantastic flight skills, but also left them the inability to perch on a branch or even stand like a song bird on the ground. When a Chimney Swift needs to descend from the sky it uses its grappling hook-like toes to cling to the vertical interiors of hollow trees or interior of chimneys. Thus the name Chimney Swift, a bird that was once known as the American Swift.

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