Family Swifts (Apodidae)

Near Threatened

Waterfall Swift (Hydrochous gigas)


French: Salangane géante German: Riesensalangane Spanish: Salangana gigante
Other common names: Giant Swiftlet, Waterfall Swiftlet

Collocalia gigas

E. J. O. Hartert and Butler

, 1901,

Semangko Pass, Selangor, Malaysia


Large size and differences in breeding biology favour generic isolation of present species, although some authors have regarded these differences as marginal and of doubtful taxonomic significance; others suggest that present species may not be closely related to the swiftlet genera. DNA and other studies inconclusive; while one phylogenetic analysis indicated that present species and Aerodramus papuensis are sister taxa#R, its precise taxonomic position remains to be determined#R#R. Monotypic.


Mountainous areas of Peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra and W Java; few records from Borneo.

Descriptive notes

16 cm; male 37 g, female 35–39 g. A fairly large swift, appearing rather more like some of the Apodini swifts than the swiftlets, with deeply forked tail; uniformly... read more


Poorly documented, described as a sharp wickering or loud twittering, readily audible above the... read more


Typically found over mountainous rainforest in areas of waterfalls; known from c. 800 m in Malay... read more

Food and feeding

Analyses of stomach contents from W Java show prey variable, presumably depending on availability: one stomach contained mainly flying ants... read more


Recorded Oct–Jan in W Java; egg taken late Apr in Malay Peninsula. Nest in latter location of liverworts, collected by birds by... read more


Believed to be resident, though equivocal. Recorded at night from Fraser’s Hill, W Malaysia, and on... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Currently considered near-threatened. Restricted-range species: present in Sumatra and Peninsular Malaysia EBA and Java and Bali Forests EBA. Rare... read more

Recommended citation

Chantler, P. & Boesman, P. (2018). Waterfall Swift (Hydrochous gigas). 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 October 2018).