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The swifts are a family, Apodidae, of highly aerial birds. They are superficially similar to swallows, but are actually not closely related to passerine species at all; swifts are in the separate order Apodiformes, which they share with hummingbirds. The treeswifts are closely related to the true swifts, but form a separate family, the Hemiprocnidae.

The resemblances between swifts and swallows are due to convergent evolution, reflecting similar life styles based on catching insects in flight.

The family scientific name comes from the Ancient Greek απους, apous, meaning "without feet", since swifts have very short legs and never settle voluntarily on the ground, clinging instead to vertical surfaces. The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as seen in the heraldic martlet.

Read more about Swift:  Description, Systematics and Evolution

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Famous quotes containing the word swift:

    In all the wide gamut of human experience, nothing plays so important a part as faith.... Faith that is as broad as the heavens and as wide as the earth. Faith that comprehends in its vast sympathies everything human as well as divine, and carries one with the swift sure wings of the angels directly to his goal.
    Alice Foote MacDougall (1867–1945)

    You may have your suspicions, your fears, you may even believe there is something, somewhere, terribly, drastically wrong, but because someone else is in charge, because there is a part of the system above you which you don’t know, you don’t question it, you even distrust your own doubts.
    —Graham Swift (b. 1949)

    Where fierce indignation can no longer tear his heart.
    [Ubi saeva indignatio ulterius cor lacerare nequit.]
    —Jonathan Swift (1667–1745)