Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Forbes-Watson's Swift (Apus berliozi)


French: Martinet de Berlioz German: Sokotrasegler Spanish: Vencejo de Socotora

Apus pallidus berliozi


, 1966,



Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. niansae, A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus, A. unicolor, A. alexandri, A. pallidus and A. apus. Has been thought to be closest to A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus and A. pallidus. Birds breeding in SE Somalia (Hal Hambo) are apparently intermediate between nominate and race bensoni. Birds collected in summer in S Arabia, and previously identified as A. apus pekinensis or A. pallidus, recently shown to be of present species and probably of race bensoni#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. b. berliozi Ripley, 1966 – Socotra.
  • A. b. bensoni Brooke, 1969 – Somalia; winters S to coastal Kenya. Also (presumably this subspecies#R) a migrant breeder on S Arabian coast#R.
  • Descriptive notes

    16 cm; male 37·5 g, female 40 g. Plain brown, with forehead and lores intermediate in shade between A. apus and A. pallidus. Very like A.... read more


    Typical scream “srreeee” is less piercing and somewhat shorter than that of A. pallidus,... read more


    Generally found in arid landscapes. On Socotra seen over a wide range of habitats, even urban ones... read more

    Food and feeding

    Beetles, ants, grasshoppers, termites and bugs recorded. Typically forages in small numbers, c. 10, though flock of 200 recorded.


    Breeds at Hal Hambo, Somalia, Mar–Sept, or perhaps Dec, though this may be due to disturbance; completed by mid-May on Socotra.... read more


    Race bensoni partial migrant, with some wintering on Indian Ocean coast as far S as Kenya... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Range very restricted. Common at main Socotran breeding site in Hajhir Mts, e.g. 300 recorded in survey, spring 1993. Range may be slightly more... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Forbes-Watson's Swift (Apus berliozi). 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 23 January 2020).