Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Horus Swift (Apus horus)


French: Martinet horus German: Horussegler Spanish: Vencejo horus
Other common names: Toulson's Swift (“toulsoni”), Loanda Swift (fuscobrunneus)

Cypselus affinis var. Cypselus Horus


, 1869,

north-east Africa


Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. caffer, A. batesi, A. nipalensis and A. affinis. SW Angolan fuscobrunneus is distinctive, being smaller and less glossy, with brown (not white) rump, paler head and undertail-coverts, and greyer throat; may be a separate species, but taxonomic situation complicated by proposed race toulsoni (NW Angola and Zimbabwe), which has been regarded as a full species but is probably best treated as a dark morph of nominate. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. h. horus (Heuglin, 1869) – Ethiopia, CS Kenya and N Tanzania; NW Uganda to Burundi and E DRCongo; Zambia S to S Western Cape (South Africa); more isolated populations in Nigeria, N Cameroon, W Chad, W & EC Sudan, S Gabon, Congo, extreme W DRCongo and NW Angola.
  • A. h. fuscobrunneus Brooke, 1971 – SW Angola.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; 26 g. Small, fork-tailed swift, black-brown with broad white rump-patch, white throat-patch. Differs from A. affinis in larger size, forked tail and... read more


    Most common call is a reedy trilled ”prrreeeeoo” or “prrreee-piu”. Very different from A.... read more


    Correlates with that of the bee-eaters (Meropidae), kingfishers (Alcedinidae) and martins (... read more

    Food and feeding

    Termites, flies, beetles and ants recorded. One food ball contained 204 insects: 78 jassid, 1 fulgorid and 5 heteropteran bugs, 5... read more


    Breeds Chad Nov–Feb, Sudan Mar–Jun; egg-laying Jun in Ethiopia, Apr–May in Malawi, Aug–Sept in Zambia, all year but... read more


    Populations breeding in South African and Zimbabwean high veld winter elsewhere, possibly in... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Locally common in suitable habitat over much of range, and abundant in some C Ethiopian highland sites. Range has increased following colonization of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Horus Swift (Apus horus). 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 22 February 2020).