Support
Subscribe
Subscribe to BirdNote

Sign up to receive a weekly email preview of the following week's shows!

Sign Up
Support BirdNote

Help BirdNote tell more stories, reach more people, and inspire action.

DONATE

You are here

For White-throated Swifts, Love Is in the Air

A fantastic courtship fall!
© Luke Theodorou View Large

For some birds, love is in the air. When a pair of White-throated Swifts wants to get to know each other, they meet up — on the wing — high above the ground. The birds grasp one another and, clinging together, tumble downward, for over 500 feet. Just before striking the earth, they separate, flying nonchalantly back up the canyon wall. Visit a Western canyon, and you might see a pair of swifts literally falling in love.  

Full Transcript

Transcript: 

BirdNote® 
For White-throated Swifts, Love Is in the Air
Written by Bob Sundstrom

This is BirdNote.

[Elvis sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love”]

This is Cupid’s busiest day of the year.* You could say that love is in the air. And for some birds, you can take that literally: love really is in the air.
Consider the birds called White-throated Swifts. [White-throated Swift calls] White-throated Swifts are sparrow-sized birds with short bodies and very long, slender wings. They nest in canyons throughout the West.[White-throated Swift calls]

When a pair of White-throated Swifts wants to get to know each other better, they meet up -- on the wing -- high above the ground. The two birds then grasp one another and, clinging together, tumble downward, their bodies whirling in space. Still locked in this embrace, the swifts may plummet for over 500 feet, until just before striking the earth, they separate. Then they flap nonchalantly back up the canyon wall. [White-throated Swift calls]

This behavior, known as a courtship fall, helps bond the two swifts as a pair for the nesting season. Some observers suspect that White-throated Swifts may even mate during their rapid, joint descent.
Visit a Western canyon this spring and you might see, firsthand, a pair of swifts literally falling in love.  [White-throated Swift calls] [Elvis sings “Can’t Help Falling in Love”]

###

Elvis Pressley Can’t Help Falling In Love from The Essential Elvis Pressley album, Sony 2007.
Bird sounds provided by The Macaulay Library of Natural Sounds at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, New York. Calls of White-throated Swifts [164121] recorded by M. Lammertink.
Ambient drawn from RTHA-03b.
BirdNote's theme music was composed and played by Nancy Rumbel and John Kessler.
Producer: John Kessler
Executive Producer: Chris Peterson
© 2014 Tune In to Nature.org  February 2014/2016  Narrator: Michael Stein

ID#   WTSW-02-2014-02-14        WTSW-02

Related field notes:

Home
Shows
Galleries
More