Baby swift bird food

Baby Swifts May Need Your Help

4 minutes

The common swift is a bird that spends practically its entire life flying. Therefore, when baby swifts fall from the nest, they may have a hard time surviving. Today, we'll tell you what to do if you find one.

Written and verified by the biologist Samuel Sanchez.

Last update: 22 December, 2022

The common swift (Apus apus) is a bird species that inhabits Eurasia and Africa. Unfortunately, in Europe, it’s common to find baby swifts on the ground during the spring, where they’re at the mercy of predators.

Baby swifts are somewhat different than the rest of baby birds. That’s because this species spends most of the time in the air.  As strange as it may seem, these birds reproduce, sleep, and mate while in flight. Their bodies are completely adapted to life in the air, possessing a complex wing morphology and very short legs.

Therefore, when baby swifts fall from the nest, it’s practically a death sentence. That’s because these birds are unable to take flight on their own.

With that in mind, we want to tell you what you can do if you find one of these amazing birds on the ground.

Discovering the swift

Before providing clear instructions, we first want to help you identify this species:

  • Swifts are birds with a silhouette in the shape of a crossbow. Also, they have short forked tails and long narrow wings.
  • Their feathers are black, and they have a light gray spot on their throats that’s almost imperceptible except from close up.
  • Adults measure approximately 6 inches long and have a wingspan of between 16.5 and 19 inches.
  • This species remains in flight for 9 consecutive months of the year. They only stop to lay their eggs, incubate them, and raise their young.

Before making the decision to pick up any baby bird you find on the street, you need to make sure it’s actually a swift. Otherwise, you may provide the wrong kind of care. What’s more, you may even pick up a bird that doesn’t need any help at all and, in doing so, separate it from its nest.

Basic care for baby swifts

There are many factors when it comes to caring for any type of bird. However, when it comes to baby birds, it’s important to understand that every second is vitally important. The first two essential steps you need to take are the following:

  1. Hydrating the animal. The bird may be close to dying due to a lack of water and an excess of solar light. Therefore, hydrating baby swifts is the first thing you need to do. First, dissolve a teaspoon of sugar in water and offer it to the bird. You’ll need to use a syringe to place the liquid in the corner of its mouth. You should never put the liquid in the bird’s beak or you could choke it.
  2. Place the bird in a box and be sure to keep it away from any windows that receive direct sunlight. The box should be cardboard or plastic, spacious (some 16 inches in diameters). Also, make sure it doesn’t have any bars or projections that could hurt the animal. It’s important to leave the bird alone once you’ve prepared its area. Remember, it’s not uncommon for passerine birds to die from the stress of handling.

What do baby swifts eat?

Feeding baby swifts is complex since they’re exclusive insectivores. Therefore, you’ll need to find an exotic animal shop that sells live food: Crickets, grasshoppers, honeycomb worms, flour worms, etc. You may also be able to find these online. 

It’s important to clarify that you shouldn’t go overboard with worms as a means of food. Because worms contain a large amount of fat, grasshoppers and crickets are a better option.

Be sure to give the baby bird one insect every half hour in the early stages, only during the day. Gradually, you’ll work towards feeding the bird every three hours, offering 15 insects per feeding. Additionally, it’s important to give baby swifts vitamin supplements once per day. You can find these supplements in the same stores that sell live food.

And finally, freedom

Never forget that the final goal when it comes to rescuing baby swifts is setting them free. The time will be right when the bird’s feathers have reached maximum development and the bird looks practically like an adult.

So, don’t lose sight of the fact that these are wild animals. Forget about keeping this bird as a pet to play and interact with, and give it back the freedom and autonomy it needs.

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Common Swift - Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on

Common Swift - Facts, Diet, Habitat & Pictures on



Common Swift

European swift, Swift, Common swift


Apus apus

Population size

95-165 mln

Life Span

21 yrs

Top speed

111 km/h


30-50 g


16-17 cm


38-40 cm

The common swift (Apus apus ) is a medium-sized bird, superficially similar to the barn swallow or house martin but somewhat larger, though not stemming from those passerine species, being in the order Apodiformes. The resemblances between the groups are due to convergent evolution, reflecting similar contextual development. The swifts' nearest relatives are the New World hummingbirds and the Southeast Asian treeswifts.

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Its scientific name Apus is Latin for a swift, thought by the ancients to be a type of swallow with no feet (from Ancient Greek α, a, "without", and πούς, pous, "foot").

Swifts have very short legs which they use primarily for clinging to vertical surfaces (hence the German name Mauersegler, literally meaning "wall-glider"). They never settle voluntarily on the ground, where they would be vulnerable to accidents and predation, and non-breeding individuals may spend up to ten months in continuous flight.

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Common swifts are medium-sized aerial birds known for their superb flying ability. They are entirely blackish-brown in color except for a small white or pale grey patch on their chins which is not visible from a distance. They have a short forked tail and very long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. These birds never settle voluntarily on the ground, where they would be vulnerable to accidents and predation, and non-breeding individuals may spend up to ten months in continuous flight.

Photos with Common Swift

View 11 more photos of Common Swift




East Asia, Western Asia, Central Asia, South Asia, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa


Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Show More Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Georgia, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malta, Moldova, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nepal, Netherlands, Macedonia, Norway, Pakistan, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom, Uzbekistan, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, South Sudan, United Arab Emirates, Yemen, Algeria, Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, DR Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Denmark, Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Faroe Islands, Finland, France, Gabon, Gambia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Iran, Iraq, Italy, Kenya, Lebanon, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Ukraine, Western Sahara, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Comoros, Hong Kong, Iceland, Seychelles, Somalia, United States Show Less

WWF Biomes

Desert and Xeric Shrublands, Mediterranean forests, woodlands, and scrub, Temperate grasslands, Tropical moist forests, Tropical savanna

The summer breeding range of Common swifts runs from Portugal and Ireland in the West across to China and Siberia in the East. They breed as far south as Northern Africa (in Morocco and Algeria), with a presence in the Middle East in Israel, Lebanon, and Syria, the Near East across Turkey, and the whole of Europe as far north as Norway, Finland, and most of sub-Arctic Russia. Common swifts migrate to Africa, ending up in Equatorial and Sub-Equatorial Africa, excluding the Cape. These birds inhabit a wide range of habitats including arid steppe, grassland, savanna, desert, shrubland, rainforests, and wetlands. They can also be found around villages and towns.

Climate zones

Common Swift