Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis)


French: Martinet des Célèbes German: Purpursegler Spanish: Vencejo de Célebes

Chætura gigantea var. celebensis

P. L. Sclater

, 1866,

Menado, Sulawesi


Closely related to H. giganteus, with which previously considered conspecific. Some authors divide population into races celebensis (Sulawesi) and dubius (Philippines), and some recognize a further Philippine race, manobo (Mindanao, Basilan, Negros); all variation appears, however, to be mensural only#R. Monotypic.


Philippines (except Palawan) and N Sulawesi.

Descriptive notes

24–25 cm; 170–203 g. Very large swift with long, broad wings pinched in sharply at body, protruding head and bulky rear body; short tail with rectrix spines up to... read more




Occurs over open country and forests in hills and lowlands. On Sulawesi recorded at 150–2000... read more

Food and feeding

Recorded taking large numbers of bees from close to hives in Philippines.


Not known.


Presumed resident. May be locally nomadic on Sulawesi.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Lack of museum specimens suggests scarcity. Large flocks of a species of Hirundapus recorded in C Sulawesi were presumably... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2020). Purple Needletail (Hirundapus celebensis). 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).