Aerial birds

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Britain has several bird species that spend most of their time in flight, hawking for insects. The most aerial of them all is the swift, which hardly ever perches, even sleeping on the wing, and usually flies high in the sky. It is a dark bird with long, scythe-like wings.

You can recognise a swallow by its long tail streamers and red throat. They are most often seen flying low across grassy areas picking up small insects, or perching in small groups on telephone wires.

House martins build their mud nests below the eaves of buildings, sometimes forming large colonies near wetlands where there is plenty of mud for their nests and insects to catch. They are black with white patches and a forked tail.

Sand martins are similar but slightly smaller and brownish, and nest in holes in sandbanks and usually feed over water.

© Leslie Borg