Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (Panyptila cayennensis)


French: Martinet de Cayenne German: Kleiner Schwalbensegler Spanish: Vencejo tijereta chico

Hirundo cayennensis

J. F. Gmelin

, 1789,



Subspecies weakly differentiated, veraecrucis appearing very like nominate but perhaps slightly larger; separation into races may prove to be unjustified. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. c. veraecrucis R. T. Moore, 1947 – E Mexico (Veracruz) S to N Honduras.
  • P. c. cayennensis (J. F. Gmelin, 1789) – S Honduras S through Central America, with scattered distribution in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Venezuela, Trinidad and the Guianas, Brazil and NE Bolivia.
  • Descriptive notes

    13 cm; 18 g. Medium-sized swift, black with white collar, throat and rear flank patches. Structure and plumage remarkably similar to much larger P. sanctihieronymi,... read more


    Commonest calls include a reedy or wheezy phrase of fast twittering notes commencing and... read more


    Main habitats defined as tropical lowland evergreen forest and secondary forest. Mostly lowlands... read more

    Food and feeding

    Occurs in mixed groups with Chaetura and Cypseloides, but generally less ­gregarious than other apodids, not... read more


    Recorded Costa Rica Jan–Jun, Panama Mar–Aug, and Caldas, Colombia, Apr and Dec. In Brazil occupied nests found in Mato Grosso... read more


    Resident. Recorded as rare vagrant during Nov over secondary-scrub habitat 30 km S of Caracas,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Local and uncommon, to locally fairly common in optimum habitat, such as Hill Bank, N Belize. Fairly common to uncommon in Central... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Bonan, A., de Juana, E. & Boesman, P. (2020). Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (Panyptila cayennensis). 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 27 February 2020).