Samson Tan photographed Glossy Swiftlets (Collocalia esculenta) flying around the garden of a resort when holidaying in Tomohon, Sulawesi, Indonesia in June 2014. Only when he uploaded the images onto his computer did he realise that the swiftlets were actively collecting lichens growing from the trunk of a palm.
A swiftlet would slow down (above) and hovered about 50cm away from the palm (below).
It then approached the trunk of the palm without making any physical contact (below).
While still hovering, it pulled off a mass of lichen (below).
Swifts spend most of their time in flight and hardly or never settle on the ground voluntarily. That explain their very short legs, used only for clinging to vertical surfaces.
In the last image (above), the Glossy Swiftlet is seen flying off with its head turned upside down. Can it be that it was mixing the lichen collected with its saliva before reaching the nest site and using it as nest material?
This account was originally posted HERE.
An earlier post on these same species collecting the Old Man’s Beard lichen (Usnea sp.) can be viewed HERE.