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Drinking on the Wing

For swallows and swifts, it looks like showing off
© Nicolas Sanchez - Creative Commons View Large

Many birds drink while standing — dipping their beaks into a pond or birdbath, taking a beakful, and then tossing their heads back to swallow the water. But drinking on the wing suits swallows best. They walk awkwardly on the ground, and their long wings are cumbersome. So it’s far more efficient to grab a drink on the glide. This adaptation holds true for some other birds, too, including Common Nighthawks and swifts. Swifts have such short legs that they never land on the ground — so a sip on the wing is essential. 
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Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote®

Drinking on the Wing

Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.
[Tree Swallow song, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/137594, 0.06-.10]
As a Tree Swallow swoops gracefully across a marsh, its long, slender wings glint a deep, iridescent blue. It glides close to the surface, tips its head down, and lightly skims the pond for a second with its beak open. Drinking – on the wing.
[Tree Swallow calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/94428] 
Many birds drink while standing: dipping their beaks into a pond or birdbath, taking a beakful, and then tossing their heads back to swallow the water. And most birds can’t pull off a daredevil, in-flight drink because they just aren’t built for it. Swallows are such virtuosos of flight that their skimming the pond almost looks like showing off.  [Tree Swallow calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/94428]
Drinking on the wing suits swallows best. They walk awkwardly on the ground on rather short legs, and their long wings are pretty cumbersome. So it’s far more efficient to grab a drink on the glide. This adaptation holds true for some other birds, too. 
[Common Nighthawk calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/516732]     Common Nighthawks are much bigger than swallows, with a two-foot wingspan. They take their water in flight, too. While swifts, with an even longer-winged structure than swallows, have such short legs that they never land on the ground, and so a sip on the wing is all but essential. 
[Chimney Swift calls, http://macaulaylibrary.org/audio/5995, 0.07-.09] 
 For BirdNote, I’m Michael Stein.

###

Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Tree Swallow [137594] recorded by Gerrit Vyn; Tree Swallow [94428] and Common Nighthawk [516732] recorded by W L Hershberger; Chimney Swift [5995] recorded by G B Reynard
BirdNote’s theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Dominic Black
© 2016 Tune In to Nature.org         May  2018          Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#                 drinking-02-2016-05-23    drinking-02


Nighthawks drinking on wing - photo
https://www.google.com/search?q=nighthawk+drinking+photo&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF...
swifts drinking on wing - photo
https://www.google.com/search?q=swifts+drink+on+wing+photo&rlz=1C1ZMDB_e...

swallows drink on wing – photos
https://www.google.com/search?q=swallows+drink+on+wing+photo&rlz=1C1ZMDB...



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