Apodidae – Swifts
Common Swift – Apus apus
Named as Hirundo Apus by Linnaeus in 1758, Common Swift has two subspecies: A. a. apus (W Palearctic north of Sahara east to Lake Baikal, south-east towards Iran (recent colonist of Gran Canaria and probably Teneriefe) and A. a. pekinensis (Iran east through Himalayas to Mongolia and N China). Both races winter primarily south of Equator in Africa.
Over vast breeding range occurs in a wide range of habitats from arid steppe, desert, temperate, Mediterranean zones and boreal zone and from sea-level to high altitude (recorded migrating at 5700m in Himalayas). Similarly occurs over all sub-Saharan habitats in the winter. Abundance in Britian apparently correlates with climate; commonest in relatively warm and dry south and east, becoming scarcer to the north and west where insect abundance is reduced in the comparatively wetter conditions. In Israel less abundant in driest areas.
In spring present in south of breeding range from mid Mar, arriving later further north, where migration occurs into Jun. Leaves Europe from late Jul being present on African wintering grounds from Sept. Broadfront autumn migration from Europe with S SW bearing, whilst return migration is by a more easterly route. Race pekinensis has departed South Africa by early Mar, with nominate birds leaving somewhat earlier, late Jan – early Feb. Small numbers winter north of Sahara, for instance on Cape Verde Is, Egypt, Israel and the Arab Gulf states.
Within huge range the onset of breeding season varies widely, from Mar in Israel, mid May in Britain and late May in Scandinavia. Mainly colonial, with separate nests typically over 1m apart. Male prospects and choses nest site in order to attract female, who is initially greeted with hostile display, though allopreening occurs when she submits by lifting head to expose throat patch. Nests mainly in buildings, but also in tree hollows and rock crevices in remote areas. Half-cupped nest measures 125 x 110 mm with an internal diameter of 45 mm; consists of small pieces of vegetable matter and feathers, agglutinated with saliva,. Clutch 1-4 eggs, measuring: 25 x 16 mm; parents share nesting duties equally, with incubation initiated by laying of last egg, with a period of 19.5 days.
Continuous brooding in first week, becomes discontinuous from second with young unattended during inclement weather. Weather causes feeding rate variation; two young share foodball until they are large enough to swallow one whole around day 14, with an average 10 foodballs daily. Young becomes restless from 2-3 weeks, with wing exercises and allopreening; self initiated fledging after sunset or prior to 08.00 am; average fledging period 42.5 days, with wide range of 37-56 days due to weather conditions. Mating on wing and at nest. Average breeding success between 58-65% with on average between 1.3-1.7 young fledging per breeding effort.
A common species, with 1997 population estimates in Europe between 3,973,943-4,872,619, Russia 1,00,000-5,000,000 and Turkey 50,000-500,000. Apparent decline in some areas of Europe, at least, as shown by reported recent declines in 12 European countries. In Britain and Ireland censuses between 1968-1972 revealed an estimated 100,000 pairs and between then and 1989-1990 there is apparently no evidence of siginificant population change.
(No swift species has become extinct since 1600, but BirdLife International assesses the Guam swiftlet as endangered and lists the Atiu, dark-rumped, Schouteden’s, Seychelles and Tahiti swiftlets as vulnerable; twelve other species are near threatened or lack sufficient data for classification).
There are, according to the IOC, 113 Swifts, Swiftlets, Spinetails, Needletails and Palm-Swifts in the family Apodidae; they are listed below.
Spot-fronted Swift Cypseloides cherriei
White-chinned Swift Cypseloides cryptus
White-fronted Swift Cypseloides storeri
Sooty Swift Cypseloides fumigatus
Rothschild’s Swift Cypseloides rothschildi
American Black Swift Cypseloides niger
White-chested Swift Cypseloides lemosi
Great Dusky Swift Cypseloides senex
Tepui Swift Streptoprocne phelpsi
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutila
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonaris
Biscutate Swift Streptoprocne biscutata
White-naped Swift Streptoprocne semicollaris
Giant Swiftlet Hydrochous gigas
Plume-toed Swiftlet Collocalia affinis
Grey-rumped Swiftlet Collocalia margina
Ridgetop Swiftlet Collocalia isonota
Tenggara Swiftlet Collocalia sumbawae
Drab Swiftlet Collocalia neglecta
Glossy Swiftlet Collocalia esculenta
Satin Swiftlet Collocalia uropygialis
Bornean Swiftlet Collocalia dodgei
Cave Swiftlet Collocalia linchi
Christmas Island Swiftlet Collocalia natalis
Pygmy Swiftlet Collocalia troglodytes
Seychelles Swiftlet Aerodramus elaphrus
Mascarene Swiftlet Aerodramus francicus
Indian Swiftlet Aerodramus unicolor
Philippine Swiftlet Aerodramus mearnsi
Halmahera Swiftlet Aerodramus infuscatus
Sulawesi Swiftlet Aerodramus sororum
Seram Swiftlet Aerodramus ceramensis
Mountain Swiftlet Aerodramus hirundinaceus
White-rumped Swiftlet Aerodramus spodiopygius
Australian Swiftlet Aerodramus terraereginae
Himalayan Swiftlet Aerodramus brevirostris
Volcano Swiftlet Aerodramus vulcanorum
Whitehead’s Swiftlet Aerodramus whiteheadi
Bare-legged Swiftlet Aerodramus nuditarsus
Mayr’s Swiftlet Aerodramus orientalis
Mossy-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus salangana
Uniform Swiftlet Aerodramus vanikorensis
Ameline Swiftlet Aerodramus amelis
Palau Swiftlet Aerodramus pelewensis
Mariana Swiftlet Aerodramus bartschi
Island Swiftlet Aerodramus inquietus
Tahiti Swiftlet Aerodramus leucophaeus
Atiu Swiftlet Aerodramus sawtelli
Marquesan Swiftlet Aerodramus ocistus
Black-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus maximus
Edible-nest Swiftlet Aerodramus fuciphagus
Germain’s Swiftlet Aerodramus germani
Three-toed Swiftlet Aerodramus papuensis
Scarce Swift Schoutedenapus myoptilus
Philippine Spine-tailed Swift Mearnsia picina
Papuan Spine-tailed Swift Mearnsia novaeguineae
Madagascan Spinetail Zoonavena grandidieri
Sao Tome Spinetail Zoonavena thomensis
White-rumped Spinetail Zoonavena sylvatica
Mottled Spinetail Telacanthura ussheri
Black Spinetail Telacanthura melanopygia
Silver-rumped Spinetail Rhaphidura leucopygialis
Sabine’s Spinetail Rhaphidura sabini
Cassin’s Spinetail Neafrapus cassini
Böhm’s Spinetail Neafrapus boehmi
White-throated Needletail Hirundapus caudacutus
Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis
Brown-backed Needletail Hirundapus giganteus
Purple Needletail Hirundapus celebensis
Lesser Antillean Swift Chaetura martinica
Band-rumped Swift Chaetura spinicaudus
Costa Rican Swift Chaetura fumosa
Pale-rumped Swift Chaetura egregia
Grey-rumped Swift Chaetura cinereiventris
Vaux’s Swift Chaetura vauxi
Sick’s Swift Chaetura meridionalis
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica
Chapman’s Swift Chaetura chapmani
Mato Grosso Swift Chaetura viridipennis
Short-tailed Swift Chaetura brachyura
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis
White-tipped Swift Aeronautes montivagus
Andean Swift Aeronautes andecolus
Antillean Palm Swift Tachornis phoenicobia
Pygmy Palm Swift Tachornis furcata
Neotropical Palm Swift Tachornis squamata
Great Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila sanctihieronymi
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift Panyptila cayennensis
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvus
Malagasy Palm Swift Cypsiurus gracilis
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensis
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba
Mottled Swift Tachymarptis aequatorialis
Cape Verde Swift Apus alexandri
Common Swift Apus apus
Plain Swift Apus unicolor
Nyanza Swift Apus niansae
Pallid Swift Apus pallidus
African Black Swift Apus barbatus
Malagasy Black Swift Apus balstoni
Fernando Po Swift Apus sladeniae
Forbes-Watson’s Swift Apus berliozi
Bradfield’s Swift Apus bradfieldi
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus
Salim Ali’s Swift Apus salimalii
Blyth’s Swift Apus leuconyx
Cook’s Swift Apus cooki
Dark-rumped Swift Apus acuticauda
Little Swift Apus affinis
House Swift Apus nipalensis
Horus Swift Apus horus
White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
Bates’s Swift Apus batesi
African Palm Swift Cypsiurus parvusSpecies AccountThe African palm swift (Cypsiurus parvus) is a small swift. It is very similar to the Asian palm swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, and was formerly considered to be the same species. The Malagasy palm swift was also recently split from this species.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melbaIUCN Species StatusThe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melbaSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melbaSpecies AccountThe Alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba) formerly Apus melba, is a species of swift. The genus name is from the Ancient Greek takhus, "fast", and marptis, "seizer". The specific melba has no known explanation.
Antillean Palm Swift Tachornis phoenicobiaSpecies AccountAntillean Palm-swift is a small blackish brown and white swift with a distinctly forked tail. Mainly found in low, seasonally wet grasslands and second growth scrub in the Greater Antilles, Antillean Palm-Swift spends most of the day on the wing in search of flying insects.
Asian Palm Swift Cypsiurus balasiensisSpecies AccountThe Asian palm swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) is a small swift. It is very similar to the African palm swift, Cypsiurus parvus, and was formerly considered to be the same species.
Black Swift Cypseloides nigerSpecies AccountThe American black swift or more simply black swift (Cypseloides niger) is a name given to birds that are found from northern British Columbia in Canada through the United States and Mexico to Costa Rica and Brazil.
Black Swift Cypseloides nigerCornell Species AccountBlack Swift occurs widely throughout western North America in summer, with its breeding range extending as far north as southeastern Alaska, as far east as central Colorado, and south through Mexico and Central America to Costa Rica, with additional populations in the West Indies.
Black Swift Cypseloides nigerSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Cave Swiftlet Collocalia linchiSpecies AccountThe cave swiftlet (Collocalia linchi) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae. It is found in Indonesia, Malaysia and India. It is a woodland species and nests in caves. The Bornean swiftlet was considered a subspecies, but is now usually considered distinct.
Cave Swiftlet Collocalia linchiSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilaSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilaSpecies AccountThe chestnut-collared swift (Streptoprocne rutila) is a resident breeding bird from Mexico and Trinidad south to Peru and Bolivia. It was one of the species of Cypseloides controversially moved to Streptoprocne by the AOU (BLI 2004).
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilaIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2016. Streptoprocne rutila. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species
Chestnut-collared Swift Streptoprocne rutilaCornell Species AccountChestnut-collared Swift is a rather large swift of montane regions. It is found from Mexico south through Central America, the Andes from Venezuela south to Bolivia, and in the coastal mountains of northern Venezuela and on Trinidad.
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagicaSpecies AccountThe chimney swift (Chaetura pelagica) is a bird belonging to the swift family Apodidae. A member of the genus Chaetura, it is closely related to both the Vaux's swift and the Chapman's swift; in the past, the three were sometimes considered to be conspecific.
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagicaCornell Species AccountA recognizable component of the eastern North American avifauna, this small, agile, fast-flying swift is easily identified by its characteristic "cigar on wings" profile.
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagicaIUCN Species Statushe IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22686709A131792415
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagicaSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Common Swift Apus apusSpecies AccountThe common swift (Apus apus) is a medium-sized bird, superficially similar to the barn swallow or house martin but somewhat larger. It is, however, completely unrelated to those passerine species, since swifts are in the separate order Apodiformes. The resemblances between the groups are due to convergent evolution reflecting similar life styles. Swifts' nearest relatives are thought to be the New World hummingbirds and the Southeast Asian treeswifts....
Common Swift Apus apusIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2016. Apus apus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22686800A86111691
Common Swift Apus apusRSPB Species AccountThe swift is a medium-sized aerial bird, which is a superb flier. It evens sleeps on the wing! It is plain sooty brown, but in flight against the sky it appears black.
Common Swift Apus apusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
House Swift Apus nipalensisSpecies AccountThe house swift (Apus nipalensis) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae. It is found in Nepal, and Southeast Asia. It was formerly considered a subspecies of the little swift.
House Swift Apus nipalensisSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Malagasy Palm Wwift Cypsiurus gracilisSpecies AccountThe Malagasy palm swift (Cypsiurus gracilis) is a small swift in the family Apodidae. It is very similar to the African palm swift, Cypsiurus parvus, with which it was formerly considered conspecific. It was split based on differences in vocalizations and plumage coloration.
Mountain Swiftlet Aerodramus hirundinaceaSpecies AccountThe mountain swiftlet (Aerodramus hirundinaceus) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae. It is endemic to the island of New Guinea and the nearby islands of Karkar, Yapen and Goodenough.
Mountain Swiftlet Aerodramus hirundinaceaIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2016. Aerodramus hirundinaceus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22686525A93116128
Pallid Swift Apus pallidusSpecies AccountThe pallid swift (Apus pallidus) is a small bird, superficially similar to a barn swallow or house martin. It is, however, completely unrelated to those passerine species, since the swifts are in the order Apodiformes. The resemblances between the groups are due to convergent evolution reflecting similar life styles.
Pallid Swift Apus pallidusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxiCornell Species AccountA bird of the Pacific Northwest, Vaux's Swift spends almost all of daylight hours in the air foraging for insects.
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxiSpecies AccountVaux's swift (Chaetura vauxi) is a small swift native to North America and northern South America. It was named for the American scientist William Sansom Vaux.
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxiIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2016. Chaetura vauxi. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22733935A95069659
Vaux's Swift Chaetura vauxiSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonarisSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonarisIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2018. Streptoprocne zonaris. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22686476A130106561
White-collared Swift Streptoprocne zonarisCornell Species AccountA large, black swift with a complete white collar, the White-collared Swift can be found in a wide range of habitats at a wide range of altitudes.
White-rumped Swift Apus cafferSpecies AccountThe white-rumped swift (Apus caffer) is a small swift. Although this bird is superficially similar to a house martin, it is not closely related to that passerine species. The resemblances between the swallows and swifts are due to convergent evolution reflecting similar life styles.
White-rumped Swift Apus cafferIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2018. Apus caffer. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2018: e.T22686882A131921201.
White-rumped Swift Apus cafferSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
White-rumped Swiftlet Aerodramus spodiopygiusSpecies AccountThe white-rumped swiftlet (Aerodramus spodiopygius) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae.
White-rumped Swiftlet Aerodramus spodiopygiusIUCN Species StatusBirdLife International 2016. Aerodramus spodiopygius. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016: e.T22686528A93116300.
White-rumped Swiftlet Aerodramus spodiopygiusSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatilisSpecies AccountThe white-throated swift (Aeronautes saxatalis) is a swift of the family Apodidae native to western North America, south to cordilleran western Honduras. It is migratory, and travels to the southern part of its range in winter, as far north along the Pacific coast as the Californian Central Valley; inland its range extends throughout the Great Basin region to extreme southern British Columbia.
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatilisCornell Species AccountWhite-throated Swifts are among the most accomplished fliers of all North American birds, streaking forward at high speed, then suddenly changing direction with lightning-fast adjustments of wing and tail.
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatilisSpecies AccountSound archive and distribution map.
Number of bird species: 113(According to IOC as at July 2019)
CD of Swift Calls| By Erich Kaiser | Musikverlag Edition AMPLE | Multilingual in English, Dutch, French & German | Runtime 73 Minutes | #202710 | ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
On Crescent Wings| (A Portrait of the Swift) | By Jonathan Pomroy | Mascot Media | 2018 | Paperback | 144 pages, 132 colour & b/w illustrations | ISBN: 9781999845759 Buy this book from NHBS.com
On the Biology of Five Species of Swifts (Apodidae, Cypseloidinae) in Costa Rica| By Manuel Marín A & F Gary Stiles | Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology | 1992 | Paperback | 65 pages, 2 plates with colour illustrations; 37 b/w photos and b/w illustrations, 14 tables | #24852 | ISBN: Buy this book from NHBS.com
RSPB Spotlight: Swifts and Swallows| By Mike Unwin | Bloomsbury Publishing | 2018 | Paperback | 128 pages, colour photos, colour maps | ISBN: 9781472950116 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Swift Summers| (My Life with the Common Swift) | Mark Walker | M`ark Walker | 2016 | Paperback | 140 pages, b/w photos, b/w illustrations | ISBN: 9781329963092 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Swiftlets of Borneo - Builders of Edible Nests| By Lim Chan Choon & Earl of Cranbrook | Natural History Publications Borneo | 2014 | Edition 2 | Hardback | 170 pages, 137 colour photos, b/w illustrations and colour maps, colour tables | ISBN: 9789838121484 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Swifts| (A Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World) | Phil Chantler & Gerald Driessens | Pica Press | 2000 | Edition 2 | Hardback | 272 pages, 24 colour plates, line illustrations, maps ISBN: 9781873403839 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Swifts| By John Glenday, R Summerton, A Lolley & D Ramsay | Salty Press | 2010 | Paperback | 24 pages, 9 b/w illustrations | ISBN: 9780955178399 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Swifts in a Tower| By David Lack | Unicorn Publishing Group | 2018 | Hardback | 286 pages, 12 plates with 19 colour photos; 28 b/w illustrations, 2 tables | ISBN: 9781911604365 Buy this book from NHBS.com
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica Conservation ProjectWebsiteNestcam, reports etc.
Concern For SwiftsWebsiteNearly all the examples of good practice which make up this section of the web-site are due to the enthusiasm and commitment of individuals working on their own. It has been most rewarding to discover how many swift lovers there are out there, getting on with it, not waiting for this agreement and that agreement and this form to be filled in and that list to be completed. It has also been something of a revelation to discover that, almost without exception, architects and contractors have gone out of their way to assist and invent.
Swift ConservationWebsiteOur aim is to protect and encourage Swifts, truly amazing birds that live with us for just three months every Summer. We provide advice to homeowners, construction professionals, educators, and government. Find out why Swifts matter, what they give us, and how you can get a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction helping them survive and thrive
Swallows-Martins-Swifts-WorldwideMailing ListAimed at specialist and amateur alike, you may record observations, describe interesting behavioral features, ask questions, advise readers about publications, and submit photographs and texts via Files or Photos. Articles and messages in languages other than English may be posted, provided a summary in English is also attached.
Little Swift Apus affinisGalleryExcellent close Image