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White-throated Needletail - BirdForum Opus

Subspecies caudacutus. Photo © by Mat & Cathy
Woolgoolga, New South Wales, Australia, December 2009

Alternative names: Needle-tailed Swift or Spine-tailed Swift

Includes: Himalayan Needletail

Hirundapus caudacutus


19–20 cm (7½-7¾ in.)

  • overall plumage dark brown
  • mantle paler: pale brown or whitish
  • throat white
  • lores white or brown (nudipes)
  • undertail white extending forwards on to the flanks
  • end to the tail spiny
  • wings long, curved


Central Asia and southern Siberia, wintering south to Australia.


Reference [3] suggests plumage differences mean subspecies nudipes may best be split as "Himalayan Needletail".

Subspecies caudacutus. Photo © by Hans&Judy Beste
Taromeo, S.E. Queensland, Australia, February 2019


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:

  • H. c. caudacutus: Siberia to Japan and Kuril Islands.; winters to Australia. [white lores, distinct pale/whitish mantle]
  • H. c. nudipes: Himalayas to southwest China; winters to India and Myanmar. [brown lores, indistinctly pale mantle, upperparts blue glossed]


Wooded lowlands and hills with little vegetation. In the Himalayas they occur at around 1250–4000 m.



Subspecies caudacutus. Photo © by Mat & Cathy
Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, January 2009

They build their platform stick nests in rock crevices in cliffs or hollow trees.


Their diet consists of insects which are caught in the air.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive (retrieved February 2019)
  3. Eaton, JA, B van Balen, NW Brickle, FE Rheindt 2021. Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago (Greater Sundas and Wallacea), Second Edition. Lynx Editions. ISBN978-84-16728-44-2

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1