Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Common Swift (Apus apus)


French: Martinet noir German: Mauersegler Spanish: Vencejo común
Other common names: Eurasian Swift

Hirundo Apus


, 1758,



Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. niansae, A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus, A. berliozi, A. unicolor, A. alexandri and A. pallidus. Previously thought to be closest to A. niansae and A. unicolor; has been considered conspecific with both, and also with A. barbatus. Birds breeding in SW Asia have been separated as race marwitzi, but this poorly differentiated taxon not widely accepted. Israeli population somewhat intermediate between nominate race and pekinensis. Two subspecies normally recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. a. apus (Linnaeus, 1758) – W, N & S Europe and NW Africa E to L Baikal, SE towards Iran; winters Africa, mainly from DRCongo and Tanzania S to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.
  • A. a. pekinensis (Swinhoe, 1870) – Iran and Transcaspia, and N, C & E Afghanistan, E through W Himalayas (to C Nepal) to Mongolia and N China; winters E & S Africa (primarily in Namibia and Botswana).
  • Descriptive notes

    16–18 cm; 31–52 g; wingspan 42–48 cm. Large rakish swift with long, deeply forked tail and sharply pointed wings; black-brown mantle, outer wing, lesser coverts,... read more


    Most common call is a shrill, piercing, wheezy or reedy scream “srreeeeerrr”, overslurred with top... read more


    Wide range of habitats from arid steppe and desert on S & E boundaries, temperate and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Prey up to 12 mm taken, with stinging insects avoided. Over 500 prey species noted in European diet. German study analysed 11,384 insects... read more


    Season: Mar–Jun, Israel; probably May–Jun, Pakistan and Kashmir; mid-May to late Jul Britain and Ireland, and a week earlier... read more


    Long-distance migrant. Present at SW Palearctic sites from mid Mar, arriving later further N; main... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Declines apparent in some areas of Europe at least, where breeding population recently reported to have decreased in 12 countries.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Boesman, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2019). Common Swift (Apus apus). 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 14 November 2019).