Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Nyanza Swift (Apus niansae)


French: Martinet du Nyanza German: Braunsegler Spanish: Vencejo de Nyanza

Cypselus Niansae


, 1887,

Kagehi, Lake Victoria, Tanzania


Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus, A. berliozi, A. unicolor, A. alexandri, A. pallidus and A. apus. Has been considered conspecific with A. unicolor and A. apus, and also with A. barbatus. Race somalicus formerly considered to belong with A. pallidus. Proposed race kapnodes (from Mt Moroto, in Uganda) is treated as a synonym of nominate. Two subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. n. niansae (Reichenow, 1887) – Eritrea, W Ethiopia, E Uganda, W Kenya and N Tanzania; winter records from NE DRCongo, NW Tanzania, Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya.
  • A. n. somalicus (S. R. Clarke, 1919) – N Somalia and adjacent Ethiopia; some winter in Kenya.
  • Descriptive notes

    15 cm; male 32 g, female 33 g. Medium-sized swift with small head, rakish wings, comparatively short and shallowly forked tail with relatively blunt rectrices; blackest on... read more


    Differs slightly from typical scream of A. apus, the scream being a shorter, more twangy and more... read more


    Although can be encountered in lowlands, typically occurs in highland areas and associated habitats... read more

    Food and feeding

    Prey items recorded: ants 14, flies 7, beetles 2, bugs 1, bees 1 and termites 1. Most active in crepuscular period, though feeds throughout... read more


    Laying dates: Eritrea Apr–May, C Ethiopian plateau Apr–Aug, Addis Ababa May–Sept, Kenya Sept; somalicus thought... read more


    In N Somalia present late Mar to late Sept, probably only partially migratory. Addis Ababa colonies... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally common to abundant throughout the Rift Valley Highlands. Huge colony at Hell’s Gate National Park, Naivasha, Kenya, numbers 10,000s of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Nyanza Swift (Apus niansae). 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 26 February 2020).