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Little Swift - BirdForum Opus

Revision as of 16:58, 12 October 2023 by THEFERN-13145 (talk | contribs) (→‎Subspecies)
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Photo © by xentox
Lofa County, Liberia, 2005
Apus affinis


Notice white rump wrapping down onto flanks
Photo © by Paco Chiclana
coast of Cádiz, Spain, July 2011

12 cm (4¾ in): wingspan 33cm

  • Overall black plumage
  • Throat white and (always) sharply demarcated from darker head
  • Face may be pale but doesn't appear pale headed
  • Rump white wrapping down onto flanks
  • Vent area often noticeably paler than dark belly
  • Tail short square, often with slight central cleft

Similar species

Various other white-rumped swifts, especially House Swift when that is treated as distinct (which see) and Horus Swift (see House Swift). See the following for a detailed comparison: Identifying small white-rumped swifts.


Africa and Asia
In Africa south of the Sahara, locally also Northern Africa. In the Middle East in Israel and Turkey. From there east to Iran, Pakistan and India.
Common in sub-Saharan Africa and India.

Local and scarce in the rest of its range. Not globally threatened.

Also occurs on European side of the Gibraltar Strait per BF members observations.

Northernmost populations migratory in for example Middle East.


Forms a superspecies with House Swift Apus nipalensis and is often considered conspecific. Sometimes also called House Swift (and the House Swift is sometimes called Little Swift) so confusion is easily possible.


Clements recognises the following subspecies [1]:


Aerial; nests on cliffs, buildings and bridges.



The 1-4 eggs are laid in nests built in colonies on cliffs, buildings and bridges.


Diet includes insects caught in flight.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2018. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2018. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/

Recommended Citation

External Links

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