Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Indian Swiftlet (Aerodramus unicolor)


French: Salangane de Malabar German: Malabarsalangane Spanish: Salangana de Malabar

Hirundo unicolor


, 1840,

Coonoor Pass, Tamil Nadu, India


Previously considered conspecific at various times with A. brevirostris or A. fuciphagus; has been associated also with A. francicus and A. elaphrus, mainly because of relative geographical proximity; probably closest to “A. vanikorensis group” (A. vanikorensis, A. inquietus, A. pelewensis, A. bartschi and A. salangana). A. brevirostris rogersi has been tentatively linked with present species on morphological grounds. Sri Lanka birds blacker above and darker grey-brown below than S Indian ones, and with blackish undertail-coverts and slightly shorter and less forked tail#R, may represent a separate race. Currently treated as monotypic.


SW India from S Maharashtra S through Western Ghats to Kerala and W Tamil Nadu, and throughout Sri Lanka.

Descriptive notes

12 cm. Medium-sized swiftlet with shallow tail-fork; dark brown upperparts with uniform or marginally paler rump; uniformly pale brown underparts and unfeathered tarsi. In... read more


Considered to be similar to that of A. brevirostris, with roosting birds giving a feeble,... read more


From lowlands, wherever there are rocky hills with suitable nesting caves, to 2200 m over a variety... read more

Food and feeding

Diptera, Hemiptera and Hymenoptera predominate with Coleoptera, Odonata and Trichoptera also recorded. Two jassid mango-hoppers, ... read more


Season mainly Mar–Jun, S India; nest-building late Dec to early Jan with second brood, if harvesting has not occurred, in Aug–... read more


Believed resident, though probably occasional winter visitor to Maldives, with a single individual... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Particularly abundant in Sri Lanka, where is one of most abundant of mountain bird species; also abundant in cave systems of Western Ghats, and on... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Indian Swiftlet (Aerodramus unicolor). 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).