1069. Cypselus apus.
The European Swift.
Hirundo apus, Linn. Syst. Nat. i, p. 344 (1766). Cypselus apus, III. Prodr. p. 230 ; Blyth, Cat. p. 85; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 109 ; Adams, P. Z. S. 1859, p. 175; Jerdon, B. I. i, p. 177; id. Ibis, 1871, p. 354; Stoliczka, J. A. S. B. xxxvii, pt. 2, p. 18; Hume, S. F. I, p. 165; id. Cat. no. 99; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 85; St. John, Ibis, 1889, p. 156. Cypselus acuticauda, Blyth MS., Jerdon, B. I. iii, p. 870 (1864); Blyth, Ibis, 1865, p. 45; 1866, p. 339; Jerdon, Ibis, 1871, p. 355; Hume, S. F. ii, p. 156; id. Cat. no. 99 bis. Cypelus pekinensis, Swinhoe, P. Z. S. 1870, p. 435; 1871, p. 345; Brooks, S. F. iii, p. 231; Scully, S. F. iv, p. 132; x, p. 100; id. Ibis, 1881, p. 428 ; Hume, S. F. vii, p. 365; viii, p. 411; id. Cat. no. 99 quat.; Sharpe, Yarkand Miss., Aves, p. 112. Micropus apus (& M. pekinensis, subsp.), Hartert, Cat. B. M. xvi, pp. 442-444.
Coloration. Except the chin and middle of the throat, which are whitish, generally with indications of dark shaft-stripes, the whole plumage is dark brown, or blackish brown, with a greenish gloss. In younger specimens the forehead is pale, and the feathers, especially on the crown, wing-coverts (above all the under coverts near the edge of the wing), and abdomen, have pale edges.
Bill blackish brown ; iris dark brown ; feet purplish brown.
Length about 7; tail 3; wing 7; tarsus 0-5 ; the outer exceed the middle rectrices by about an inch or rather more.
Distribution. A migratory bird, breeding throughout the greater part of the Palaearctic region, and spending the winter chiefly in Africa. It is found in Kashmir and the Western Himalayas generally, and in Afghanistan. A single specimen was shot at Port Blair, Andaman Islands, on July 30th, 1873, but the species has not been observed in the Eastern Himalayas, Assam, or Burma.
Habits, &c. This is a bird of powerful flight, though inferior to the Alpine Swift. It is almost constantly on the wing in the daytime hawking insects, generally high in the air, or playing about in flocks, and uttering its harsh screaming call. It roosts and breeds on high buildings and cliffs, much as C. affinis does, but it has not been observed to breed within Indian limits, where it is, as a rule, only a winter visitor.