Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Great Dusky Swift (Cypseloides senex)


French: Martinet à tête grise German: Rußsegler Spanish: Vencejo canoso

Cypselus senex


, 1826,



Because of differences in tail and foot structure, this species has been placed in genus Aerornis, either alone or with Streptoprocne semicollaris. Monotypic.


C & S Brazil, E Paraguay (Oriente) and NE Argentina (Misiones); recorded also (and may breed) in Serranía de Huanchaca, in NE Bolivia.

Descriptive notes

18 cm; 60–98 g. Large swift with square or slightly rounded tail, long broad wings and bulky body; brown with paler head (forehead can appear quite whitish) and... read more


Calls include a short “tik” or “tip”, often repeated, and sometimes continuing as a short rattle or... read more


Breeds and roosts around waterfalls, feeding over nearby habitats. Recorded from lowlands to 1000 m... read more

Food and feeding

Feeds high over forest canopy during day. Gregarious, often associating with S. zonaris.


Colonial, nesting on horizontal ledges adjacent to or behind waterfalls, often in direct sunlight. Nests are disc-shaped cones of moss and... read more


Equivocal migratory status. Generally believed to be resident. Some authors have suggested... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common to locally abundant, though scarce to uncommon in Paraguay. Large numbers breed at Falls of Iguazú, in area... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Great Dusky Swift (Cypseloides senex). 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 28 February 2020).