[order] Apodiformes | [family] Apodidae | [latin] Apus melba | [UK] Alpine Swift | [FR] Martinet alpin | [DE] Alpensegler | [ES] Vencejo real | [IT] Rondone alpino | [NL] Alpengierzwaluw

Alpengierzwaluw determination

copyright: yoututbe

Large, robust swift differing from all other fork-tailed west Palearctic swifts in underpart pattern. Plumage mainly umber-brown, distinctly paler above than all Apus except Pallid Swift, sharply relieved below by brown breast-band and white central underbody and throat.

Birds cover an estimated 600-1000 km daily just flying, nature of terrain underlying this aerial habitat apparently only significant in so far as it affects pattern of air currents and abundance of flying insects. At lower levels the species usually avoids areas with frequent obstructions such as trees and buildings. Breeds in mountain rock ledges, crevices, caves, coastal cliffs, and occasional holes in trees. In recent years also found in tall buildings which has enabled extension of range over lowlands and northwards.

Apus melba is a widespread summer visitor to southern Europe, which accounts for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is large (>140,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. The stronghold population in Turkey underwent a slight increase during 1990-2000, and trends were stable or increasing across most of the rest of its European range.
The Alpine Swift can be found throughout southern Europe, from Portugal to Bulgaria, and throughout all of Africa. In Europe, its main breeding area extends northward from Greece, ending just short of Germany. It is also vagrant to the British Isles and some parts of central and northern Europe.

Flying insects and spiders of moderate size. Prey caught entirely in flight.

This species has a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 kmē. It has a large global population, including an estimated 280,000-650,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but there is evidence of a population increase, and so the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

The Alpine Swift rears its young in a cup-shaped nest. This nest is usually built of feathers, fibers, sticks, plant down, and moss. The swift's saliva is used as the glue that holds the nest together. The nest is usually glued to the vertical surfaces of rock cracks and the eaves of houses, with the saliva once again serving as the glue. The swift will lay a single clutch of one to four eggs, though three is the usual number. Both parents incubate the eggs for eighteen to thirty-three days. The nestlings are hatched naked, and they are reared for another six to ten weeks, not leaving the nest until they have acquired adult plumage.

The nominate race, tuneti, nubifuga and S African populations of africanus are migratory. Migration occurs at high altitude and movements often only observed when poor weather forces birds groundwards. Migration from Palearctic on broad front, without noticeable concentrations at natural landbridges. Scarcity of records from W Africa suggests that trans-Saharan migration is preferred avoid Atlantic coast. Migration from breeding range occurs primarily September to mid-October, with many juvenils moving earlier in August. Main migration through Belan Pass, S Turkey, October-November, where it occurs in smaller flocks than Common Swift (79) and mainly in single-species groups (Sutherland & Brooks 1981). At the Bosporus migratory picture unclear as large Istanbul population embarks on early-morning feeding movements, but peak autumn passage early September (Porter 1983). Autumn passage late May to mid-December, peaking September-October, spring passage mid-January to mid-June, peaking mid-February to late March, Israel (Shirihai 1996). Huge migration noted over the West Bank in mid-March 1987 when during a 15-minute period 10,000 birds flew north only 50-100m above ground (Meininger & Bijlsma 1988). Present in Africa wintering grounds from October to March. Migratory populations of southern Africa leave the breeding grounds from May-August. Migration through Zimbabwe is noted March-June and August-October, Malawi March-April and August-October and probably Botswana April and September (Brooke 1997). First returnees appear in Mediterranean basin from second half of February, abundant from March in north-west Africa. In Switzerland arrives late March to early April, with some migration still apparent until mid-May. Resident populations of Africa are to some extent dispersive in the non-breeding season. In Natal undergoes altitudinal migration from 1,500-2,400 m to below 900 m (Johnson & Maclean 1994). The situation within India is particularly confused, with populations resident, though local migrations occur particularly in the monsoon. The race nubifuga from the Himalayas, is thought to winter in central India. (Chantler Phil Griessens G 2000)