Family Swallows and Martins (Hirundinidae)

Least Concern

Square-tailed Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne nitens)


French: Hirondelle à queue courte German: Grünglanzschwalbe Spanish: Golondrina colicuadrada

Atticora nitens


, 1857,

River Muni, Gabon


Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • P. n. nitens (Cassin, 1857) – S Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia, S Ivory Coast, S Ghana, Togo, and from SE Nigeria E to N & C DRCongo and S to Gabon, Congo and extreme NW Angola (Cabinda).
  • P. n. centralis Neumann, 1904 – NE DRCongo.
  • Descriptive notes

    11 cm; 10 g. Plumage is mostly dark brown with green gloss; wings and square-ended tail blackish-brown; chin and throat grey-brown; underwing-coverts blackish-brown with... read more


    Not very vocal; twitters in flocks and has a quiet “sip” call.


    Lowland primary and secondary forest. Feeds within forest clearings or above canopy; also around... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet includes beetles (Coleoptera), flies (Diptera), flying ants (Hymenoptera), termites (Isoptera). Forages in pairs or in small flocks of... read more


    End of dry season and start of rains: Oct–May in Liberia, Jan–Jul in Cameroon, Jul–Mar in Gabon, Aug in Cabinda, and Feb... read more


    Sedentary, but some post-breeding movement occurs, e.g. in Liberia and C Ivory Coast.

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Generally localized and uncommon to rare; considered to be common in Liberia, and locally common in Gabon, Ghana and NE DRCongo. Appears to make less... read more

    Recommended citation

    Turner, A. (2020). Square-tailed Saw-wing (Psalidoprocne nitens). 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 19 February 2020).