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Horus Swift - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 21:05, 13 March 2024 by Njlarsen (talk | contribs) (hide photo)
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Photo by safariranger
South Luangwa N.P., Zambia, July 2006
Apus horus

Includes: Loanda Swift


13-15 cm. Blackish with a white patch on the chin and a white rump. Forked tail.

Similar species

This species is difficult to tell apart from various sympatric and allopatric species such as Little Swift, White-rumped Swift, House Swift, Pacific Swift. (Extralimital species should be considered as many species exhibit vagrancy.) The most consistent character seems to be a more or less pale head with no strong demarcation from the white throat patch. The species often shows pale bars along the coverts of the underwing. See the following for a detailed comparison: Identifying small white-rumped swifts.


Sub-Saharan Africa. Patchily distributed in Central Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya, Tanzania and from Uganda south to Burundi and Zaire. More widely distributed in the south (South Africa, Mozambique and Zambia).
Locally common in good habitat and not globally threatened.

Photo by Alan Manson
Middelrus, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, January 2012


The form toulsoni (Loanda Swift) of Zimbabwe and NW Angola is very controversial. Some authorities give full subspecies status, others believe it to be a dark morph of the nominate subspecies. It differs by being almost entirely dark with an ill-defined paler throat (see also here).


This is a monotypic species[1]. Both subspecies fuscobrunneus and toulsoni are synonymised with subspecies horus and the species therefore becomes monotypic. The reason for the synonymy is that both are now considered color morphs and not true subspecies. Either one or the other of those two names were formerly associated with the common name Loanda Swift.


Forages aerially over over grassland, woodland and semi-desert.


It builds a flat nest of vegetation and hair, glued with saliva; it is situated at the end of a tunnel (generally excavated by another hole-nesting bird). One to four eggs are incubated for 28 days to hatching, and the fledging period is about 6 weeks.


  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/

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