The Indian avian biodiversity spectrum is a fascinating tapestry woven with an array of vibrant species, each adding its unique touch to the overall picture. An intriguing character in this panoramic view is the Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata), a species distinguished by its long, swept-back wings and deeply forked tail. This slender, swift bird exhibits an intriguing blend of physical characteristics and behaviours, establishing its niche in the Indian avian community. Soaring in open forests and displaying its distinctive flying pattern, the Crested Treeswift is a captivating spectacle for bird watchers and nature enthusiasts alike.
|Dove grey above and white below
|Type of bird
|Found in India in states
Features of the Crested Treeswift
With an average length of 23 cm, the Crested Treeswift is a large slender bird. Its length gives it a graceful and elongated appearance, contributing to its aesthetic appeal and distinct silhouette in flight. This length also facilitates its impressive flight abilities, allowing the bird to cover large distances and navigate with efficiency.
As a medium-sized bird, the Crested Treeswift stands at a height proportionate to its length. This balance in dimensions aids in maintaining its streamlined body structure, which is advantageous for the bird’s high-speed aerial activities and swift manoeuvres. The bird’s height, combined with its long wings, provides it with enhanced aerodynamics.
While there’s no concrete data about the running speed of Crested Treeswifts, it’s their prowess in the air that truly stands out. This bird is designed for flight, not for ground locomotion. Its long, bowed wings and deeply forked tail contribute to its agile and swift flight, making it a fantastic aerial predator and enabling it to capture insects in mid-air.
The Crested Treeswift has several distinguishing features, including a noticeable crest and a long, deeply forked tail. Male birds have orange cheeks and ear coverts, complemented by a narrow white streak under the eye and a subtle white supercilium. Females sport a thin white stripe below the eye running along the cheek. When perched, these birds sit very upright, and their unique call – a harsh kee-kyew or a three-note kip-kee-kep – adds to their distinctive persona..
Habitat and Food of the Crested Treeswift
- Geographical Spread : Crested Treeswifts are found across India, marking their presence in various open forest habitats.
- Habitat Preference : They prefer open forest environments where they can fly in wide circles and occasionally perch atop tall, leafless trees.
- Diet : Crested Treeswifts feed on insects, including honey bees, capturing them on the wing with their sharp bills. Their ability to catch prey mid-air showcases their adeptness at aerial hunting.
- Foraging Behaviour : This species feeds in the air, catching insects while in flight. They are highly skilled at manoeuvring in the air and swiftly catching their prey.
- Roosting Behaviour : Crested Treeswifts are known to roost communally, highlighting their social nature. They often return to the same roosting sites, creating a fascinating spectacle during their arrival and departure.
Nesting and Nurturing
The Crested Treeswift demonstrates unique nesting behaviour. These birds construct tiny, thin-walled, shallow nests made from pieces of bark and feathers. The nests are attached with saliva to the side of an exposed tree branch, appearing as if a knot on the branch. The egg, usually a single blue-grey one, is incubated by both sexes.
The Crested Treeswift’s nesting season aligns with the hottest part of the Indian summer, from March to July. Interestingly, nests are often positioned on the eastern side of a branch, possibly so that the incubating adult has the sun on its back during the afternoon. Nestlings are cryptically patterned in grey and when threatened, they freeze with the head held low, resembling a knot on a tree branch or a chameleon when sitting horizontally.
As with any species, the Crested Treeswift faces threats that could impact its survival. Habitat destruction due to deforestation and urbanisation poses a significant threat to these birds. The removal of trees means the loss of nesting and roosting sites, as well as a reduction in their food sources.
Pesticides used in agriculture can also pose a risk, as they can contaminate the insects that the Crested Treeswifts consume, potentially leading to poisoning. Furthermore, climate change and its effects on weather patterns and insect populations can indirectly affect these birds.
IUCN Status and Conservation
The Crested Treeswift is listed as ‘Least Concern’ on the IUCN Red List. However, given the potential threats to its habitat, proactive conservation strategies are crucial. Actions that could help the environment include protecting and replenishing forest habitats, decreasing the usage of harmful pesticides, and advocating for sustainable practices that take into account the welfare of wildlife
Public awareness and education about these birds and their ecological significance can also contribute to their conservation. Highlighting the Crested Treeswift’s unique features and behaviours can foster appreciation and support for their protection.
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