Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Little Swift (Apus affinis)


Taxonomy

French: Martinet des maisons German: Haussegler Spanish: Vencejo moro
Other common names: House Swift (when lumped with A. nipalensis)
Taxonomy:

Cypselus affinis

J. E. Gray

, 1830,

Ganges, India

.

Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. caffer, A. batesi, A. horus and A. nipalensis. Often considered conspecific with A. nipalensis (which see). Population of sub-Saharan Africa formerly treated as race abessynicus [sic], but this name suppressed#R. Proposed race gyrator (for birds from coastal E South Africa S to Transkei) subsumed within aerobates. Six subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. galilejensis (Antinori, 1855) – NW Africa E patchily to Uzbekistan and Pakistan, and E sub-Saharan Africa in E Sudan, Eritrea, Ethiopia and NW Somalia.
  • A. a. aerobates Brooke, 1969 – Mauritania E to Somalia and S to C Angola, Malawi and lowland E South Africa (Transkei).
  • A. a. bannermani E. J. O. Hartert, 1928 – Bioko, Príncipe and São Tomé, in Gulf of Guinea.
  • A. a. theresae R. Meinertzhagen, 1949 – W & S Angola to S Zambia and S through South Africa (except E).
  • A. a. affinis (J. E. Gray, 1830) – S Somalia S (including Zanzibar and Pemba) to N Mozambique and probably Madagascar#R, and E to India S of Himalayas; some winter in India and presumably Africa.
  • A. a. singalensis Madarász, 1911 – S India and Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    12 cm; male 25 g, female 25 g. Small swift with relatively chunky body, blunt wing-tips and square tail; black above, with slightly paler forehead and uppertail-­coverts... read more

    Voice

    Quite vocal. Commonest call is a pleasant twittering descending trill “ti-ti-ti-tititrrrrrr”,... read more

    Habitat

    Occurs over a wide range of habitats and latitudes, though less frequently in truly arid regions,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Flies, termites, ants, beetles, grasshoppers and a dragonfly recorded in Africa, and Diptera, Hemiptera, Coleoptera, Hymenoptera and... read more

    Breeding

    Feb–May and Aug–Oct in Mauritania, Oct–Jul in Senegambia, avoiding rainy season, and year-round in W African rainforest... read more

    Movements

    Resident throughout tropics; majority of northernmost (W Palearctic) and southernmost (S African)... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Scarce to locally common in W Palearctic, though often abundant in towns and cities in tropical range. Although generally common and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2017). Little Swift (Apus affinis). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from http://www.hbw.com/node/55337 on 19 October 2017).