The fact that Swifts of most species spend most of their time high in the sky, landing only for nest-building has long been known, or… may we better say, guessed? Actually, this was a suposition that had not been definitely proved and remained in a mixed terrain between scientific proof and urban legend.
Christoph Meier, of the Swiss Ornithological Institute and other investigators including staff members of the Catalan Ornithological Institute, have proved that Alpine Swift (Apus melba) do sleep aloft and spend most of their lives flying non stop, except when breeding. With the use of geolocator tags, now Meier and his collaborators know how high Alpine Swifts can fly, exactly where they spend the Winter in Africa and what’s the migration behaviour of European populations. Data from Tarragona, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Turkey show different migration patterns that are very interesting to study.
In his talk, The sky is the limit: How geolocators help us unveil the secrets of Alpine swifts, Meier will transport us to the world of these unique creatures and unravel many of their secrets and, as always happens in science, will open the box of the new questions that emerge in the light of the new knowledge. How do birds keep together throughout the year? Why individual birds migrate so differently? Why European populations behave so differently?
Meier is a scientist but above all, he is a Swift lover and will be happy to advise you on how you can support Swifts in your neighbourhood for you to enjoy their calls year after year.