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(crested swifts and swifts), a suborder of birds of the order Apodiformes. Birds of the suborder Apodes resemble the Hi-rundinidae (swallows and martins). The bill is short, and the gape large. The wings are long and pointed, and the tail is usually short. In some species the retrices terminate in sharp spines, which are used as a prop when the bird is moving in a tree hollow. The legs are extremely short, and all four toes are usually turned forward. The males and females are alike; the plumage is dark, sometimes with a metallic gloss. The birds are capable of extremely rapid flight.
The suborder Apodes is divided into two families—Hemiprocniidae (crested, or tree, swifts), whose three species are found in the Asian tropics, and Apodidae (swifts proper), whose 74 species are widely distributed throughout the world, with the exception of the polar regions. Five species occur in the USSR: common swift (Apus apus), alpine swift (A. melba), fork-tailed swift (A. pacificus), little swift (A. affinis), and needle-tailed swift (Hirundapus caudacutus). All species are migratory. The birds nest on tall buildings, in cliff crevices, and in tree hollows and caves. A clutch contains two white eggs. The diet consists of insects captured on the wing.