Common swift (bird) flies over 10 months per year

Only lands to nest - and very rarely if at all to rest

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Common swift (bird) flies over 10 months per year

#1  Postby Weaver » Oct 27, 2016 5:24 pm

Neat news.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/28/scien ... wifts.html

The common swift is a bird shaped by and for the air. In flight it looks like a crescent moon, with just a hint of head and a tail that, when spread, echoes the curve of its wings.

Scientists have now confirmed that it can spend up to 10 months in the air without landing. Only when it makes a nest does it need to come to Earth. It can even mate during flight.

Anders Hedenström, a biologist at the University of Lund, and his colleagues determined how much time swifts spend in the air by capturing them in southern Sweden, where they summer and nest, and attaching micro data loggers. They reported their findings in Current Biology.

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Re: Common swift (bird) flies over 10 months per year

#2  Postby Calilasseia » Oct 27, 2016 7:22 pm

It mentions that these birds sleep on the wing too. My understanding is that the swift only shuts down half of its brain at any given time, then wakes up the sleeping part of the brain while the other half rests. More on this here, with a scientific paper covering the topic being this one:

Do Birds Sleep In Flight? by Niels C. Rattenborg, Naturwissenschaften, 93: 413-425 (11th May 2006) DOI: 10.1007/s00114-006-0120-3 [Full paper downloadable from here]

Rattenborg, 2006 wrote:The following review examines the evidence for sleep in flying birds. The daily need to sleep in most animals has led to the common belief that birds, such as the common swift (Apus apus), which spend the night on the wing, sleep in flight. The electroencephalogram (EEG) recordings required to detect sleep in flight have not been performed, however, rendering the evidence for sleep in flight circumstantial. The neurophysiology of sleep and flight suggests that some types of sleep might be compatible with flight. As in mammals, birds exhibit two types of sleep, slow-wave sleep (SWS) and rapid eye-movement (REM) sleep. Whereas, SWS can occur in one or both brain hemispheres at a time, REM sleep only occurs bihemispherically. During unihemispheric SWS, the eye connected to the awake hemisphere remains open, a state that may allow birds to visually navigate during sleep in flight. Bihemispheric SWS may also be possible during flight when constant visual monitoring of the environment is unnecessary. Nevertheless, the reduction in muscle tone that usually accompanies REM sleep makes it unlikely that birds enter this state in flight. Upon landing, birds may need to recover the components of sleep that are incompatible with flight. Periods of undisturbed postflight recovery sleep may be essential for maintaining adaptive brain function during wakefulness. The recent miniaturization of EEG recording devices now makes it possible to measure brain activity in flight. Determining if and how birds sleep in flight will contribute to our understanding of a largely unexplored aspect of avian behavior and may also provide insight into the function of sleep.
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Re: Common swift (bird) flies over 10 months per year

#3  Postby Calilasseia » Oct 27, 2016 7:28 pm

The same author found out something interesting about Frigate Birds in this paper:

Evidence That Birds Sleep In Mid-Flight by Niels C Rattenborg, Bryson Voirin, Sebastian M. Cruz, Ryan Tisdale, Giacomo Dell’Omo, Hans-Peter Lipp, Martin Wikelski & Alexei L. Vyssotski, Nature Communications, DOI:10.1038/ncomms12468 [Full paper downloadable from here]

Rattenborg et al, 2016 wrote:Abstract

Many birds fly non-stop for days or longer, but do they sleep in flight and if so, how? It is commonly assumed that flying birds maintain environmental awareness and aerodynamic control by sleeping with only one eye closed and one cerebral hemisphere at a time. However, sleep has never been demonstrated in flying birds. Here, using electroencephalogram recordings of great frigatebirds (Fregata minor) flying over the ocean for up to 10 days, we show that they can sleep with either one hemisphere at a time or both hemispheres simultaneously. Also unexpectedly, frigatebirds sleep for only 0.69 hd−1 (7.4% of the time spent sleeping on land), indicating that ecological demands for attention usually exceed the attention afforded by sleeping unihemispherically. In addition to establishing that birds can sleep in flight, our results challenge the view that they sustain prolonged flights by obtaining normal amounts of sleep on the wing.
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Re: Common swift (bird) flies over 10 months per year

#4  Postby tuco » Oct 27, 2016 7:32 pm

Rorýs obecný :)

Function of sleep seems trivial but its probably not.

Amazing stuff.
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