Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Common swifts make mysterious twilight ascents

Date:
February 21, 2013
Source:
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA)
Summary:
Common swifts climb to altitudes of up to 2.5 km both at dawn and dusk. This unexpected behavior was discovered by a geo-ecologist.

Common swifts climb to altitudes of up to 2.5 km both at dawn and dusk.
Credit: © avs_lt / Fotolia

Common swifts climb to altitudes of up to 2.5 km both at dawn and dusk. This unexpected behaviour was discovered by geo-ecologist Dr Adriaan Dokter of the University of Amsterdam's (UvA) Institute for Biodiversity and Ecosystem Dynamics (IBED) together with colleagues from the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute (KNMI), the Royal Netherlands Air Force and Lund University.

The research results were published as a featured article in the March issue of the scientific journal Animal Behaviour.

In the summer, swifts make their presence felt in the city, especially because of the screaming sound they make. These common urban birds appear to have unusual movement patterns. Besides a short breeding period under urban roofing tiles, these birds spend all year on the wing: foraging, mating and even sleeping are all performed in flight. Using a novel radar technique, Dokter and his colleagues studied the nocturnal flight behaviour of the common swift with the assistance of a weather radar belonging to the KNMI.

Dokter explains: 'We always assumed that common swifts ascended in the evening as part of their sleeping cycle. However, now that we have observed the bird perform ascents at both the start and the end of night-time periods, this interpretation seems to be incorrect. The ascents must have a different function, with the birds making use of the unique opportunities offered by the twilight period.'

Common swifts as weather predictors?

Twilight is rich in information: it is the only period allowing simultaneous detection of landscape features, polarization patterns, stars and magnetic cues. This information is used by many different animals for navigational and orientation purposes. Common swifts also seem to choose the twilight to obtain specific information during their ascents. An appealing possibility is that during the ascents, the birds investigate characteristics of the atmosphere in relation to their current location and orientation, such as temperature and wind at various altitudes. This may enable the birds to predict future weather conditions. An adequate response to meteorological conditions is crucial to common swifts, as when foraging they are fully dependent on aerial insects, which are most common in good weather conditions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Adriaan M. Dokter, Susanne Εkesson, Hans Beekhuis, Willem Bouten, Luit Buurma, Hans van Gasteren, Iwan Holleman. Twilight ascents by common swifts, Apus apus, at dawn and dusk: acquisition of orientation cues? Animal Behaviour, 2013; DOI: 10.1016/j.anbehav.2012.12.006

Cite This Page:

Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Common swifts make mysterious twilight ascents." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 21 February 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221084709.htm>.
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). (2013, February 21). Common swifts make mysterious twilight ascents. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 30, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221084709.htm
Universiteit van Amsterdam (UVA). "Common swifts make mysterious twilight ascents." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/02/130221084709.htm (accessed September 30, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

Seismic Activity Halts Recovery at Japan Volcano

AP (Sep. 30, 2014) — Rescuers were forced to suspend plans to recover at least two dozen bodies from near the summit of Mount Ontake in central Japan on Tuesday after increased seismic activity raised concern about the possibility of another eruption. (Sept. 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

Raw: Balloon Descends to Bottom of Croatian Cave

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — An Austrian balloon pilot has succeeded in taking a balloon deep underground, a feat which he believes is a world first. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

Bodies Recovered from Japan Volcano Eruption

AP (Sep. 29, 2014) — Rescue crews finished recovering the remaining 27 bodies from atop Japan's Mount Ontake Monday. At least 31 people were killed Saturday in the mountain's first fatal volcanic event in modern history. (Sept. 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins