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Lesser Antillean Swift - BirdForum Opus

Photo by Hamhed
Syndicate, Dominica, December 2016
Chaetura martinica


10·5 cm (4¼ in)
Lesser Antillean Swift has brownish-gray upperparts with a lighter gray rump, and dark gray underparts. It has a short tail showing "needle-tail" consisting of bare shafts, a feature shared with other Chaetura swifts.

Similar species

Black Swift is the main contender within the range of LA Swift: LA Swift is smaller and grayer, has a shorter tail, and will show a fork in the tail only if molt is ongoing. The gray rump can be seen only in good observation conditions, but when seen will clinch the identification relative to Black Swift.

Chimney Swift is a rare migrant through the area, and some of the Chaetura swifts that breed in Trinidad and northern South America have been identified as accidentals further north within the range of LA Swift. It is possible that some of these are overlooked, because we are used to LA Swift being the only Chaetura swift in the area. Short-tailed Swift is now breeding north to St. Lucia.

The bird will only show this pale and brown in very unusual circumstances
Photo by njlarsen
Syndicate, Dominica, August 2017


Only found in the Lesser Antilles from Guadeloupe to St Vincent.
Fairly common in parts of its range.


Forms a superspecies with Grey-rumped Swift and Pale-rumped Swift. The three species have been placed into genus Acanthylis, together with Band-rumped Swift.
This is a monotypic species1.


Found both at low and high elevation, but most likely to be found low when the higher areas are covered with rain-clouds. It spends most of its time near or over wet forest and second growth.



Feeds on insects taken in flight. Gregarious and often seen foraging in flocks of up to 40 birds, sometimes together with Swallows.


Breeding season from late spring to early summer. Nest half-cupped, nest sites probably like other Chaetura species. Lays 3 eggs.


Resident all year around.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2016. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2016, with updates to August 2016. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved August 2017)

Recommended Citation

External Links

The following link will search for pictures of this species in the gallery; however, at the time of editing, no image was found in the gallery.