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Cecil's Answer for Week 25

Q: One of the most versatile and superb aeronauts amongst bird species, this animal lives behind a curtain of water in one of the Greatest Places.



The answer is the 'swift', so named for what it can do. One Asian species is capable of speeds of 170 kph (100 mph) in level flight and every day flies around 900 km (560 mi) looking for insects that are its only food. At Igassau immense flocks of swifts live behind the curtains of falling water.

During the day swifts hunt high in the sky for insects. As evening approaches, they assemble in huge flocks and at sunset they begin to stream down at high speed. They dive straight at the wall of water. Just before they hit it, they fold their wings and their speed carries them through to the rock face behind. With an upward swoop, they bring their feet forward and clutch the rock and there they hang, some in dry spots, some with water dripping over them, but apparently they enjoy the bathe, preening themselves and occasionally drinking. To human eyes, their water flight appears dangerous for the reward of a safe place to perch. But, with their superb aerial skills, they unfailingly succeed in diving through the water, so we can only conclude that, for them, there is no risk in reaching their sanctuary behind the waters of Igassau.

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