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Nyanza Swift - BirdForum Opus

Apus niansae


15 cm. A medium-sized swift.

  • Relatively small head
  • Rakish wings
  • Relatively short and shallowly forked tail with blunt rectrices
  • Dark brown-blackish on mantle, outer wing and smallest coverts, showing an extreme contrast with pale brown inner wing and greater coverts
  • Brown head and rump slightly paler than inner wing
  • Brown underparts with pale throat
  • somalicus is smaller and paler and shows a more distinct pale throat-patch

Sexes alike.


Eastern Africa. Found in Eritrea, Ethiopia, Uganda, Somalia, Kenya and Tanzania. Wintering birds also in NE Zaire.
Common to abundant in the Rift Valley highlands. A huge colony at Hell's Gate National Park in Kenya with several 10'000s birds. Common in Addis Ababa.



Two subspecies recognized[1]:

  • A. n. niansae:
  • A. n. somalicus:


Usually found in highland areas around gorges, cliff-faces and human settlements. Accessible wet areas are an important source of food. Can also be seen in lowlands.



Feeds on insects like other swifts.
Often forages early morning or late afternoon but also feeds throughout the day close to active breeding colonies. Gregarious, often together with other Swift species.


Breeding season from April to August, later in Kenya.
Breeds in crevices on cliff-faces or in gorges, also on buildings. The nest is a shallow cup made of feathers and grasses and held together with saliva. Lays 1 to 3 eggs. Like other swifts copulates in the air. Usually in small to huge colonies.


Most populations are resident, however birds in northern Somalia and Eritrea are possibly partially migratory.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved Feb 2018)

Recommended Citation

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