Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus)


French: Martinet pâle German: Fahlsegler Spanish: Vencejo pálido

Cypselus pallidus


, 1870,



Recent molecular phylogeny#R placed this species in a clade with A. niansae, A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus, A. berliozi, A. unicolor, A. alexandri and A. apus. Has been thought to be closest to A. bradfieldi, A. barbatus and A. berliozi. A. niansae somalicus formerly placed in present species. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. p. brehmorum E. J. O. Hartert, 1901 – SW Palearctic from Portugal E to Turkey (except Dalmatian coast), and from Morocco to NW Egypt, including Canary Is and Madeira; winters mainly in Sahel.
  • A. p. illyricus Tschusi, 1907 – Dalmatian coast and possibly E Italian coast; winters in E Sahel.
  • A. p. pallidus (Shelley, 1870) – Banc d’Arguin (Mauritania) E very locally through Sahara to Middle East (to S Iran); migratory populations winter in Sahel, with limited wintering in coastal Pakistan.
  • Descriptive notes

    16 cm; 42 g. Large, bulky swift with relatively broad blunt wing-tips, short, fairly shallowly forked tail, broad head and body. Brown, with white throat-patch. Race ... read more


    Commonest call is a shrill, piercing, wheezy scream “srreeeeerrr”, overslurred with top frequency... read more


    Throughout much of range associated with coastal sites, especially islets, but occurs in... read more

    Food and feeding

    At Gibraltar, 1293 prey items comprised Hymenoptera 56%, Hemiptera 25%, Diptera 12%, Coleoptera 5%, Lepidoptera 1%, and others, including... read more


    Laying dates: Israel, Mar–May; Morocco and Tunisia, Mar–Jul, with first clutch from Apr and second clutches beginning late Jul... read more


    Southernmost and some Middle Eastern breeders resident; additional wintering in S Spain and as far... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Abundant in some areas, including much of N Africa and W Mediterranean. Huge count of 8000–12,000 birds made from an area of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P., Bonan, A. & Boesman, P. (2020). Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus). 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 24 February 2020).