Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Black-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus)


French: Salangane à nid noir German: Schwarznestsalangane Spanish: Salangana nidonegro
Other common names: Robinson’s Swiftlet (maximus), Lowe’s Swiftlet (lowi)

Collocalia maxima

A. O. Hume

, 1878,

Tenasserim, Myanmar


Much confusion over nomenclature: species originally named maxima in 1876, but incorrectly; validated by same author in 1878; this emendation, however, was long overlooked, owing in part to lumping of these names within A. brevirostris innominatus, an older name; during this period name used for present species was lowi, while northern race was listed as robinsoni, as next available name. Despite the unlikely distribution pattern resulting, nominate race and lowi apparently co-occur and intergrade in W Java. Both A. vulcanorum and A. vanikorensis palawanensis have been placed in present species. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. m. maximus (A. O. Hume, 1878) – S Myanmar (S Tenasserim) to S Malay Peninsula, SE Vietnam and W Java.
  • A. m. lowi (Sharpe, 1879) – Sumatra and islands off W coast, N, W & S Borneo, Labuan I and W Java.
  • A. m. tichelmani (Stresemann, 1926) – SE Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    12–14 cm; 13·6–20 g. Medium-sized to large swiftlet with comparatively shallow tail-fork; glossy black-brown upperparts with typically uniform rump, though... read more


    Shrill chirrups and burbling calls at nesting colonies. Echolocating abilities have been confirmed... read more


    Occurs from lowlands to highlands over range of habitats, including dense forest where adjacent to... read more

    Food and feeding

    At Niah, Sarawak, 14 insect families and subfamilies recorded, with ants, termites and certain beetles predominating. Takes advantage... read more


    Eggs collected on Thai-Malay Peninsula, mid Apr; active colony in Padang Highlands, Sumatra, Apr; builds nests above high-tide mark from... read more


    Resident, though vagrancy to Palawan (Sept 1887) suggests some dispersal capabilities.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Scarcest in Thai-Malay Peninsula. Elsewhere abundant, despite alarming decrease at some farmed caves, e.g. 150,000–298,000... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Black-nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus). 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 on 25 February 2020).