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Papuan Spinetail - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Papuan Spinetailed Swift; New Guinea Spinetail; New Guinea Needletail; Papuan Needletail; New Guinea Spine-tailed Swift

Mearnsia novaeguineae

Chaetura novaeguineae


With 11.5cm a small Needletail of New Guinea.

  • Head and upperparts glossy blue-black
  • White or whitish belly and undertail coverts
  • Dark underwing with pale central stripe

The small spines at the end of the tail are not visible in flight.


Endemic to New Guinea where found in the lowlands. Quite common in some parts of its range.


Formerly placed in genus Chaetura or in monospecific genus Papuanapus.


Clements recognizes these subspecies[1]:


Mainly recorded over forest, sometimes also over forest edges, gardens and cleared areas with standing dead trees.
Not found higher than 550 m asl.



It eats flying insects, usually foraging in pairs or small flocks. Often seen together with Swiftlets. Most active at dawn and dusk.


Nests in a high tree hollow.


A resident species, some local wandering may occur.


  1. Clements, J. F., P. C. Rasmussen, T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, A. Spencer, S. M. Billerman, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2023. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2023. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Gill, F, D Donsker, and P Rasmussen (Eds). 2023. IOC World Bird List (v 13.2). Doi 10.14344/IOC.ML.13.2. http://www.worldbirdnames.org/
  3. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved July 2014)

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