swift

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swift / swift/ • adj. happening quickly or promptly: a remarkably swift recovery. ∎  moving or capable of moving at high speed: the water was very swift the swiftest horse in his stable. • adv. poetic/lit.except in combination swiftly: streams that ran swift and clear a swift-acting poison. • n. 1. a swift-flying insectivorous bird with long slender wings and a superficial resemblance to a swallow, spending most of its life on the wing. • Family Apodidae: several genera and numerous species, including the common Eurasian swift (Apus apus). 2. (also swift moth) a moth, typically yellow-brown in color, with fast darting flight. The eggs are scattered in flight and the larvae live underground feeding on roots, where they can be a serious pest. • Family Hepialidae: Hepialus and other genera. 3. a light, adjustable reel for holding a skein of silk or wool. DERIVATIVES: swift·ly adv. swift·ness n.

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swift, common name for small, swallowlike birds related to the hummingbird and found all over the world, chiefly in the tropics. They range in size from 6 to 12 in. (15–30 cm) in length. Swifts have long wings and small feet and can perch only on vertical surfaces. They scoop up insects in their wide mouths while on the wing. Swifts are the most rapid fliers known among living creatures. In the United States the common eastern species is the chimney swift, Chaetura pelagica, miscalled chimney swallow. Its spiny tail acts as a prop when it clings to the chimneys in which it builds its nest of twigs, cemented with saliva. In the W United States are the black, Vaux's, and white-throated swifts. Some Asian swifts make their entire nest of a salivary secretion; these are the nests that are used to make bird's-nest soup. The common European swift is sometimes called hawk swallow. Other species include the brown-throated spinetail swift (C. gigantea) of India and the Philippines; the scissor-tailed swift (Panyptila sancti-Hieronymi) of Guatemala; the white-rumped swift (Apus caffer) of Africa; and the palm swift (Cypsiurus parvus) of SE Asia. True swifts vary greatly in their nesting habits, some being cliff breeders, some using palm leaves for building their nests, and others nesting in chimneys. Found in a separate family of the same order are the crested swifts, which are restricted to SE Asia. These birds roost in trees and inhabit the open woodlands. They feed on insects, caught on the wing. Crested swifts build tiny nests, about the size of a silver dollar, on tree branches. They deposit a single gray-blue egg, which is glued to the center of the nest. Swifts are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Apodiformes, families Apodidae (swifts) and Hemiprocnidae (crested swifts).

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SWIFT

SWIFT (Heb. סִיס, sis), a bird of the genus Apus of which three species are found in Israel, the most common being Apus apus pekinensis, a small black bird similar to the swallow. Large flights of swifts reach Israel at the end of February and frequent the populated places where their food – flies and mosquitoes – is to be found, filling the air with their cry of "sis-sis," whence their Hebrew name. Their cry sounds like that of a person in pain and to it King Hezekiah compared his groans during his illness (Isa. 38:14). Jeremiah (8:7) notes that the bird arrives in the land at a fixed date. In Israel the swift nests in the interstices of walls and roofs until, at the beginning of July when the fledglings are grown, it returns to South Africa.

bibliography:

Lewysohn, Zool, 209, no. 258; F.S. Bodenheimer, Animal and Man in Bible Lands (1960), 58; J. Feliks, Animal World of the Bible (1962), 89.

[Jehuda Feliks]

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swift Any of several species of fast-flying, widely distributed birds. They have hooked bills, wide mouths, long narrow wings, and darkish plumage. They typically feed on insects, which they catch in flight, and build nests of plant matter held together with saliva. Length: to 23cm (9in). Family Apodidae.

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swift moving far in a short time, taking place at high speed. OE., f. base of swīfan move in a course, sweep = ON. svīfa.
Hence swift sb. (dial.) applied to various swiftly-moving reptiles XVI; bird of the family Apodidae XVII.

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swifts See APODIDAE; APODIFORMES.

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SWIFT (swɪft) Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Transmission