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Plume-toed Swiftlet - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies cyanoptila
Photo © by kctsang
Frasers' Hill, Malaysia, February 2008
Collocalia affinis


9–10 cm (3½-4 in) A small swiftlet with square tail.

Similar Species

Subspecies cyanoptila
Photo © by SeeToh
Dairy Farm Nature Park, Singapore, December 2014

Can be easily separate from similar looking Edible-nest Swiftlet and Black-nest Swiftlet by the whitish belly/vent and all black upperparts without any pale rump-band.

Where overlapping with Bornean Swiftlet, Plume-toed Swiftlet is 10-20% larger but this is probably not useful in the field. Color of the gloss is not helpful, though overall lack of gloss in Bornean might be. Plume-toed Swiftlet has a capped appearance with a dark, glossy cap that contrasts with a less glossy, brown rest of face. This effect is less strong in Bornean Swiftlet. It may also be worth-while to check recordings before going into the field.


From Andamans, Nicobars, and Malay Peninsula south through Sumatra and offshore islands like Nias, Batu Islands and Mentawi Islands.


Formerly included in Glossy Swiftlet.


Roosting, subspecies cyanoptila
Photo © by RogerioRodrigues
Gomantong Cave & forest reserve, Sabah, Borneo, January 2018

Five subspecies recognized[1]:

  • C. a. affinis: Andaman and Nicobar Islands
  • C. a. elachyptera: Mergui Archipelago (off Myanmar)
  • C. a. cyanoptila: Malay Peninsula, Sumatra and satellite islands and lowland Borneo
  • C. a. vanderbilti Nias Island (off western Sumatra)
  • C. a. oberholseri: Batu Islands and Mentawi Islands (off western Sumatra)


Recorded over different habitats, often in humid areas and often around human settlements. Forest, forest edge, cultivated land, villages and towns.


Subspecies affinis, trapped in a spider web
Photo © by darwin1601
Telecom loop, Fraser's hill, Malaysia, May 2018


They feed at heights up to 68 m.





  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)
  3. Identification criteria of this species especially compared with Bornean Swiftlet

Recommended Citation

External Links