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Swifts can keep flying for months at a time


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#1    UM-Bot

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 10:47 AM

Researchers have discovered that some birds can maintain continuous flight for over six months.

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A team of scientists at the Swiss Ornithological Institute conducted an experiment to learn more about the migratory behavior of the alpine swift, a small bird that is known to spend the summer breeding in Europe before flying thousands of miles to Africa for the winter.

Read More: http://www.unexplain...onths-at-a-time

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#2    ealdwita

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 02:25 PM

Ealdwita snippet alert.......

In English heraldry, the swallow is always depicted as having no feet because it was believed never to land or cease flying from egg to death and is called a 'Martlet'.




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Argent, a chevron gules between three martlets sable.



Edited by ealdwita, 09 October 2013 - 02:25 PM.

"G a wyrd swa hio scel, ac gecnwan n gef!": "Fate goes ever as she shall, but know thine enemy!".

"I was born with a priceless gift - the ability to laugh at other peoples' troubles" - Dame Edna Everage

#3    aearluin

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 03:58 PM

Actually, swifts are not related to swallows, they are more closely related with new world hummingbirds, both in the Order Apodiformes, which means "without feet" due to their remarkably small lower limbs.
Swallows are also strongly aerial, but usually go down to sleep on a perch each night.


#4    aearluin

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:01 PM

However, the martlets in the antient heraldry look more like swifts than swallows, as none of the swalow and martins found in Europe are all black, while common swifts are indeed all (or mostly) black. So maybe swifts were the origin of the martlets without feet in those ancient symbols.


#5    ealdwita

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:23 PM

View Postaearluin, on 09 October 2013 - 04:01 PM, said:

However, the martlets in the antient heraldry look more like swifts than swallows, as none of the swalow and martins found in Europe are all black, while common swifts are indeed all (or mostly) black. So maybe swifts were the origin of the martlets without feet in those ancient symbols.

To be honest, the avian origin of the martlet is unclear - It's just generally accepted that it is a swallow, but a swift would do just as well. BTW, heraldic martlets don't have to be black - they are depicted in every colour of the heraldic pallet.

"G a wyrd swa hio scel, ac gecnwan n gef!": "Fate goes ever as she shall, but know thine enemy!".

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#6    aearluin

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:41 PM

Ah ok! Very interesting that heraldic stuff. I had no idea that swift/swallow were used for such purposes, I thought it was always lions, boars, eagles and other such "imposing" beasts!


#7    aearluin

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 04:45 PM

Learn a bit more about the alpine swift here:

http://planetbirds.b...pine-swift.html


#8    Calibeliever

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 05:32 PM

"Look, It's not a question of where he grips it! It's a simple question of weight ratios! A five ounce bird could not carry a one pound coconut"


#9    OverSword

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 06:43 PM

That's amazing.  This wouldn't have surprised me if it had been a bird with a much larger relative wing span.


#10    aearluin

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Posted 09 October 2013 - 08:59 PM

Actually, birds with larger wing surface ratios are usually speciallized in soaring flight, such as large raptors and vultures. They can only sustain flight with the help of ascending thermal air currents. The birds which sustain flight for longer periods are usually long and relatively narrow winged, such as swifs or albatrosses.

Edited by aearluin, 09 October 2013 - 09:01 PM.


#11    highdesert50

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 02:09 AM

Interesting to note that sleep patterns of birds are different than mammals. But, still hard to imagine how catching snippets of sleep allow the bird to sustain itself over such extended periods of time aloft.


#12    ancient astronaut

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 06:40 AM

And Meth Heads can stay awake for weeks on end.


#13    pallidin

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Posted 10 October 2013 - 10:54 PM

I'm a little skeptical given the incremental 4-minute lapse of data recording.

Most birds I know of can swoop down to the ground in far less than 30-seconds, do their business in less than 2-minutes and fly back up to cruising altitude in less than 30-seconds.

In any event, I heard of a study done with some marine species(I think some type of shark) and it was found that they sleep while still moving, by shutting-down half their brain to rest, then switching to shut down the other half to continue to rest. Not sure how long they said they do this, but it was suggested that they can not be in "predatory" mode during this. Just a study, not sure if it was verified.

Perhaps some birds can do the same.


#14    Sundew

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 09:51 PM

I read many years ago that these birds "sleep" on the wing, that is they partial shut down but are able to maintain flight. Must be a bit like sleepwalking. It does make one wonder how many are killed at night by skyscrapers and/or wind-farm blades if they are not fully aware.


#15    Sun Raven

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Posted 12 October 2013 - 10:48 PM

View Postpallidin, on 10 October 2013 - 10:54 PM, said:

I'm a little skeptical given the incremental 4-minute lapse of data recording.

Most birds I know of can swoop down to the ground in far less than 30-seconds, do their business in less than 2-minutes and fly back up to cruising altitude in less than 30-seconds.

In any event, I heard of a study done with some marine species(I think some type of shark) and it was found that they sleep while still moving, by shutting-down half their brain to rest, then switching to shut down the other half to continue to rest. Not sure how long they said they do this, but it was suggested that they can not be in "predatory" mode during this. Just a study, not sure if it was verified.

Perhaps some birds can do the same.

Not "some type of shark", you should know more about the animal you hold in your avatar. Dolphins sleep half their brain in what is called "unihemispheric sleep". Just how do you think they do not drown?

More information:

http://marinelife.ab...phins-Sleep.htm

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