Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Himalayan Swiftlet (Aerodramus brevirostris)


French: Salangane de l’Himalaya German: Himalajasalangane Spanish: Salangana del Himalaya
Other common names: Chinese Swiftlet (innominatus)

Hirundo brevirostris


, 1840,



Form vulcanorum previously treated as subspecies of present species. Race rogersi may represent a distinct species and prove closely related to (or even conspecific with) A. unicolor, but intergrades between rogersi and other races of present species may occur. Formerly linked with A. whiteheadi, but differs in nest type and rump pattern. Proposed races inopina and capnitis, both from Hubei (EC China), are synonyms of innominatus; rump colour varies within populations of innominatus, dark-rumped individuals having been described as race pellos. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. b. brevirostris (Horsfield, 1840) – Himalayan Swiftlet – Himalayas and mountains of N India from Himachal Pradesh E to S China (W Yunnan), Myanmar and Thailand; winters to Bangladesh, SW Thailand and Malay Peninsula, and possibly Sumatra.
  • A. b. innominatus (A. O. Hume, 1873) – EC & SC China (Hubei, S Sichuan, N Guizhou, Yunnan) and N Vietnam (NW Tonkin); winters to SW Thailand and Malay Peninsula, occasionally to Andaman Is and possibly Sumatra.
  • A. b. rogersi (Deignan, 1955) – Indochinese Swiftlet – E Myanmar and W Thailand; winters as far S as Surat Thani (S Thailand).
  • Descriptive notes

    13–14 cm; 12·5–13 g. Large swiftlet with obviously forked tail; grey rump band clearly paler than dark brown upperparts; underparts very uniform pale grey... read more


    Calls include a dry repeated “chit..chit..” and a drawn-out reeling rattle. In display-flight gives... read more


    Primarily in highlands, particularly over wooded river valleys, though not uncommon over wide range... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diptera and Hymenoptera recorded. Gregarious, typically up to 50; larger flocks, e.g. 300–500, not uncommon. Associates with other... read more


    Season Apr–Jun, India; eggs collected late Apr, Shan States, Myanmar. Colonial. Nests on vertical rock-faces, inside caves or similar... read more


    Partial migrant, with apparently only relatively small proportions of poulations moving S for... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common throughout most of breeding range, though is an uncommon wintering species in Malay Peninsula; rather rare in China; recorded... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Kirwan, G.M. & Boesman, P. (2020). Himalayan Swiftlet (Aerodramus brevirostris). 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 17 February 2020).