Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Cassin's Spinetail (Neafrapus cassini)


French: Martinet de Cassin German: Cassinsegler Spanish: Vencejo de Cassin
Other common names: Cassin's Spine-tailed Swift

Chætura cassini

P. L. Sclater

, 1863,



Birds from S Cameroon (Bipindi) described as a geographical race, brevicauda, but considered undiagnosable. Monotypic.


E Sierra Leone and Liberia to Ghana, and SW Nigeria to extreme N Angola (Cabinda); Bioko I; also extreme E Congo through N DRCongo and SW Central African Republic to W Uganda.

Descriptive notes

15 cm; 39·5 g. Large spinetail with remarkably short, square tail with rectrix spines up to 6 mm beyond webs, large bulging head, long-winged appearance and typical... read more




Restricted to rainforest zone, where forest lakes seem to be preferred habitat to feed over.... read more

Food and feeding

Flying ants and smaller numbers of termites and small beetles recorded; also 200 leafhoppers (Cicadellidae) and 100 termites in 1 stomach.... read more


Although not proven, considerable circumstantial evidence points to nesting in hollow trees; no nest found to date. Enlarged gonads on... read more


Resident throughout much of range, but Liberian data suggest some migration with absence during... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Uncommon throughout most of range. In Liberia, where uncommon, found in all studied forests, usually in groups of 5 birds or fewer though up to 15... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Cassin's Spinetail (Neafrapus cassini). 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).