Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta)


French: Salangane soyeuse German: Glanzkopfsalangane Spanish: Salangana lustrosa

Hirundo esculenta


, 1758,

China; error = Ambon


May be conspecific with C. linchi; some authors place race natalis in latter. Philippine birds commonly split off as a separate species, C. marginata, largely on basis of grey rump. First six races listed below have been considered to form a distinctive W subgroup. Birds from Palawan and Calauit (SW Philippines), tentatively placed in marginata, may belong to an undescribed race. Proposed race kalili (from EC Bismarck Archipelago) is synonymous with heinrothi. Otherwise, much of the observed variation appears to be clinal. Halmahera population sometimes separated as race nubila, but this is best considered a synonym of spilura; birds from Green Is, in E Bismarcks, often separated as race hypogrammica, but indistinguishable from spilogaster; mindanensis (from Mindanao, in S Philippines) synonymized with bagobo. Thirty-one subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • C. e. affinis Beavan, 1867 – Western Glossy Swiftlet – Andaman Is and Nicobar Is.
  • C. e. elachyptera Oberholser, 1906 – Mergui Archipelago, off extreme S Myanmar.
  • C. e. cyanoptila Oberholser, 1906 – Malay Peninsula, Sumatra (including most of satellites) and lowland Borneo.
  • C. e. vanderbilti Meyer de Schauensee & Ripley, 1941 – Nias I (off W Sumatra).
  • C. e. oberholseri Stresemann, 1912 – Batu Is and Mentawai Is (off W Sumatra).
  • C. e. natalis Lister, 1889 – Christmas I (Indian Ocean, S of Java).
  • C. e. septentrionalis Mayr, 1945 – Calayan, Babuyan and Camiguin Norte, in extreme N Philippines.
  • C. e. isonota Oberholser, 1906 – N Luzon (N Philippines).
  • C. e. marginata Salvadori, 1882 – Philippine Glossy Swiftlet – C Luzon to Palawan and Bohol (W & N Philippines).
  • C. e. bagobo Hachisuka, 1930 – Mindoro, Mindanao and SW Sulu Archipelago (WC & S Philippines).
  • C. e. spilura G. R. Gray, 1866 – N Moluccas.
  • C. e. manadensis Salomonsen, 1983 – N Sulawesi to Sangihe and Talaud Is.
  • C. e. esculenta (Linnaeus, 1758) – Eastern Glossy Swiftlet – C & S Sulawesi through Banggai Is and Sula Is to C & S Moluccas.
  • C. e. minuta Stresemann, 1925 – Tanahjampea I and Kalao I, in Flores Sea.
  • C. e. sumbawae Stresemann, 1925 – W Lesser Sundas (Sumbawa, Sumba and Flores).
  • C. e. perneglecta Mayr, 1944 – E Lesser Sundas (Alor, Wetar, Kisar, Romang, Damar; also Sawu, probably this race).
  • C. e. neglecta G. R. Gray, 1866 – SC Lesser Sundas (Dao, Roti, Semau, Timor).
  • C. e. amethystina Salomonsen, 1983 – Waigeo I (W Papuan Is).
  • C. e. erwini Collin & E. J. O. Hartert, 1927 – alpine WC New Guinea (Maoke Mts, c. 1600 m and above).
  • C. e. numforensis Salomonsen, 1983 – N Geelvink Bay islands (Numfor; probably Biak), in NW New Guinea.
  • C. e. nitens Ogilvie-Grant, 1914 – W Papuan Is (Batanta, Salawati, Misool and, probably this race, Kofiau) and lowland New Guinea (occasionally to 2500 m), including Yapen I (Geelvink Bay) and Karkar I (off NE coast).
  • C. e. misimae Salomonsen, 1983 – Louisiade Archipelago.
  • C. e. stresemanni Rothschild & E. J. O. Hartert, 1914 – Admiralty Is (Manus, Los Negros, Rambutyo, Nauna).
  • C. e. heinrothi Neumann, 1919 – New Hanover, New Ireland (including Nusa I) and nearby Djaul I (EC Bismarck Archipelago).
  • C. e. spilogaster Salomonsen, 1983 – E Bismarck Archipelago: Tabar Is (Tatau), Lihir Group and Green Is (Nissan).
  • C. e. tametamele Stresemann, 1921 – Long I, New Britain and Witu Is; N Solomon Is (Buka and Bougainville).
  • C. e. becki Mayr, 1931 – C & E Solomons from Shortland I, Fauro I, Choiseul and New Georgia Group to Malaita and Guadalcanal.
  • C. e. makirensis Mayr, 1931 – Makira (San Cristobal I), in SE Solomons.
  • C. e. desiderata Mayr, 1931 – Rennell I (S Solomons).
  • C. e. uropygialis G. R. Gray, 1866 – Santa Cruz Is (Utupua, Vanikoro) and Vanuatu (including Torres and Banks Is).
  • C. e. albidior Salomonsen, 1983 – Loyalty Is and New Caledonia.
  • Also occurs (race unknown) on Salayar I (S of Sulawesi) and in Tanimbar Is.

    Descriptive notes

    9–10 cm; 5–11 g. Tiny, highly polytypic swiftlet with square tail; generally highly blue-glossed above with brown throat, white belly, mottled flanks and dark... read more


    Rather silent. Most common call is a repeated, throaty, electrical “krrr” or “churrr”, usually... read more


    Appears over a variety of habitats, often associated with human habitation. Prefers humid areas to... read more

    Food and feeding

    In Malaysia mean foraging heights for preferred forested habitat and open country 52·8 m and 68·0 m respectively; 33% of... read more


    Season mainly Feb–Mar Andaman and Nicobar Is. Egg-laying Mar–Aug, peaking Apr, in protracted breeding season, Kuala Lumpur,... read more


    Resident. Australian record as likely to represent undiscovered population as to imply dispersal or... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Often abundant, though tends to be scarce or even absent in arid areas of New Guinea. Common in many parts of Sumatra; uncommon in... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Glossy Swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta). 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 26 February 2020).