Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Fork-tailed Palm-swift (Tachornis squamata)


French: Martinet claudia German: Gabelschwanzsegler Spanish: Vencejillo tijereta
Other common names: Neotropical Palm-swift

Cypselus squamatus


, 1853,



Previously separated in genus Reinarda, alone or with T. furcata. Proposed race orientalis (from NE Brazil) apparently synonymized with nominate, but may require investigation#R. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • T. s. semota (Riley, 1933) – E Ecuador and NE Peru E through E Colombia and NW Brazil to S & E Venezuela and S to N Bolivia.
  • T. s. squamata (Cassin, 1853) – the Guianas and Trinidad to NC, NE & E Brazil.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 9·5–12 g. Smallish swift with very long, deeply forked tail and long thin wings; black-brown upperparts; large white throat separated from white mid-belly... read more


    Most common calls a series of thin buzzy notes, “beezz-beezz-bzz-bzz-bz”, accelerating and then... read more


    Main habitats defined as palm forest, river-edge forest, low, seasonally wet grassland and second-... read more

    Food and feeding

    Not particularly gregarious, occurring in flocks of up to ten, and just as likely to be seen with Blue-and-white Swallow (Pygochelidon... read more


    In Trinidad breeds Apr–Jun; in Colombia fledgling collected late Feb near Leticia and male in breeding condition collected Vaup... read more


    Resident. May migrate in parts of Brazil, as absent from Borba (Rio Madeira), Mar–Nov.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Locally common throughout range within morichales habitat. Common at Limoncocha, E Ecuador, and across Venezuelan and Colombian ... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Bonan, A., de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Fork-tailed Palm-swift (Tachornis squamata). 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).