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House Swift - BirdForum Opus

Apus nipalensis
Photo by MountainMan
Photo taken: Bintulu, Sarawak, East Malaysia


15cm. Black with prominent white rump; throat white; wings long, slender, scimitar-shaped; tail square not deeply forked, appears rounded when fanned. Genders look alike.

Juvenile: head and body narrowly grey-fringed; flight feathers finely edged in white.

Similar species

Little Swift, when that is treated as distinct. In comparison, House more often shows a shallow tail fork, narrower white rump band and more uniformly dark vent and undertail coverts. In little swift, the vent area is often noticeably paler than the dark belly. Any rump band differences can be difficult to judge. From Horus Swift by dark rather than pale head, more rounded outer tail feathers rather than pointed and less wrapped-around rump patch. See the following for a detailed comparison of these and other white-rumped swifts: Identifying small white-rumped swifts.


Southeast Asia. From the Nepal to the east into SE China, Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia to Indonesia (Borneo, Sumatra, Java) and the Philippines. Also on Taiwan and S Japan.
Common in most of its range and not globally threatened.


Forms a superspecies with Little Swift Apus affinis: often considered conspecific. As this (wider) species is sometimes also called "Little Swift" confusion is likely.


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:


They forage at about 200m above the forest canopy, or 100m above open ground.

House swifts are found mostly in open habitats suited for this foraging method.


Diet includes flying insects: mainly flying ants and termites (about 60%); bees and wasps (20%) and beetles.

Nests are built close to each other on sheer vertical surfaces. In the wild, they make their nests on limestone cliffs, but they have adapted to human constructions and now colonise buildings, jetties and bridges; including those in busy urban areas. 2-3 white eggs are laid. The chicks are fed regurgitated insects.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2022. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2022. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

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