Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Moluccan Swiftlet (Aerodramus infuscatus)


French: Salangane des Moluques German: Molukkensalangane Spanish: Salangana moluqueña

Collocalia infuscata


, 1880,

Ternate, North Moluccas


Has been thought to be close to A. hirundinaceus, A. terraereginae, A. mearnsi and A. spodiopygius. Previously placed in a composite species A. francicus or, alternatively, in A. vanikorensis; considered conspecific with A. spodiopygius by some authors. Recently proposed that each taxon in present species could be treated as a full species, since differences not clinal (ceramensis has conspicuous white rumpband, sororum a narrower, greyer-white rumpband, and infuscatus a dark grey, inconspicous rumpband; moreover, ceramensis and infuscatus are geographically closer to each other than either is to sororum), and apparently wandering ceramensis have been seen within the range of infuscatus, suggesting that the taxa may meet without interbreeding#R. Vagrancy by one taxon within the range of the other is not, however, the same as sympatry, and the break-up of this species into three, while certainly plausible, at least requires fuller evaluation of specimen evidence and, preferably, further information on vocalizations and nest structure. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. i. sororum (Stresemann, 1931) – Sulawesi Swiftlet – Sulawesi.
  • A. i. infuscatus (Salvadori, 1880) – Halmahera Swiftlet – Sangihe and Siau (off N Sulawesi) and N Moluccas (Ternate, Halmahera and Morotai, and possibly Bacan and Obi).
  • A. i. ceramensis (van Oort, 1911) – Seram Swiftlet – S Moluccas (Buru, Boana, Ambon and Seram).
  • Also recorded in Sula Is (Taliabu), race unknown.

    Descriptive notes

    10 cm. Small swiftlet with forked tail and broad wings with slightly bulging secondaries; upperparts black-brown with rump uniform or slightly paler and greyish; underparts... read more


    Call is a series of some 10–20 rhythmic trisyllabic notes, “wee-chi-chi” or similar, resulting in a... read more


    Generally appears to occur at higher altitude than closest sympatric congener, though collected on... read more

    Food and feeding

    On Sangihe possible niche separation noted, this species often feeding above canopy while Collocalia esculenta fed between trees... read more


    Thought to make a nest consisting of vegetable matter and attached to cave wall.


    Resident. May be nomadic.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Not uncommon on Seram at 700 m; common on Sangihe, though less so at lower altitudes, and especially common at higher altitudes on Gunung Awu.... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Moluccan Swiftlet (Aerodramus infuscatus). 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).