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

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

The family name, Apodidae, is derived from the Greek ἄπους (ápous), meaning "footless", a reference to the small, weak legs of these most aerial of birds.<ref name= job59>Jobling (2010) pp. 50–51.</ref><ref name= Kaufman>Kaufman (2001) p. 329.</ref> The tradition of depicting swifts without feet continued into the Middle Ages, as seen in the heraldic martlet.

Some species of swifts are among the fastest animals on the planet, with some of the fastest measured flight speeds of any bird.


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