Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Least Concern

Scarce Swift (Schoutedenapus myoptilus)


French: Martinet de Shoa German: Maussegler Spanish: Vencejo de Shoa

Cypselus myoptilus


, 1888,

Let Marefia, Shoa, Ethiopia


Species name sometimes misspelt as myioptilus. Formerly considered to include S. schoutedeni as a race. In the past, subspecies poensis was considered a race of Apus unicolor. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. m. poensis (Alexander, 1903) – Bioko I (in Gulf of Guinea) and Cameroon#R.
  • S. m. chapini (Prigogine, 1957) – E DRCongo, Rwanda and SW Uganda.
  • S. m. myoptilus (Salvadori, 1888) – scattered populations from Kenya S to Zimbabwe. Recorded also in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Angola and South Africa.
  • Descriptive notes

    16·5 cm; male 28–29·5 g, 22–30 g. Small swift with long, deeply forked tail appearing needle-thin when closed, bulbous head and thin wings tapering... read more


    Very vocal: most characteristic is a metallic “tic” note preceded by several very short trills and... read more


    Typically in moist highlands, preferably over gorges, waterfalls and evergreen forest. Recorded at... read more

    Food and feeding

    Flying ants recorded in stomach analysis. In Malawi, always feeds over forest canopy, typically of tall (25–40 m) trees and... read more


    Egg-laying believed to occur between Sept and Dec in Zimbabwe, where birds seen entering comparatively large fissures in rocky outcrops;... read more


    Typically resident, though regional movements recorded. In E Zaire around Kamituga and Tubangwa,... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Varies considerably in status throughout range. Abundant in some wet mountainous areas of E Africa, but elsewhere far more local, though regularly... read more

    Recommended citation

    Chantler, P. & Kirwan, G.M. (2017). Scarce Swift (Schoutedenapus myoptilus). 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 November 2017).