Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus)

Fork-tailed Swift

[order] APODIFORMES | [family] Apodidae | [latin] Apus pacificus | [UK] Fork-tailed Swift | [FR] Martinet de Siberie | [DE] Pazifiksegler | [ES] Vencejo del Pacifico | [NL] Siberische Gierzwaluw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Apus pacificus EU e OR, AU
Apus pacificus cooki e Burma through n Thailand to Indochina Malay Pen.
Apus pacificus kanoi se Tibet to e China, Taiwan to Indonesia
Apus pacificus leuconyx Himalayas and ne India India
Apus pacificus pacificus Siberia to Kamchatka, n China and Japan to Australia

Physical charateristics

It is a large swift with long, pointed wings and a long, deeply forked tail. It has a conspicuous white rump. Underparts have some scaling and a pale throat .

Listen to the sound of Fork-tailed Swift

[audio: Swift.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 17 cm size max.: 21 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 17 days
fledging min.: 40 days fledging max.: 41 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Eurasia : East


Preferred habitats include mountains and human habitations, usually near water.


Fork-tailed Swift: Two to three white eggs are laid in a nest made of grass, moss, and leaves, glued together with sticky saliva, and built on a cliff ridge or under a roof crevice; usually nests near water. Incubation ranges from 19 to 22 days and is carried out by both parents.

Feeding habits

Fork-tailed Swift: Feeds on insects; forages in flight.


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size has not been quantified, but it is not believed to approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Fork-tailed Swift status Least Concern


Nominate race a long distance migrant, while 3 more S races mainly resident or short-distance migrants; race cooki thought to be resident, but has occurred in winter in Malay Peninsula; kanoi has occurred in winter in Philippines and Malaysia; leuconyx may be diseprsive resident, recorded throughout Indian Subcontinent. Nominate form winters in Indonesia, Melanesia and Australia, where common Oct-Apr; recorded Cape York Peninsula, N Australia, with Hirundapus caudacatutus in Jul, presumably non-breeding birds. Arrives in Japan from late Mar, most arriving in Honshu mid-Apr and Hokkaido early May. First arrivals in far E Siberia from late Apr to early May, appearing en masse in NE Mongolia late May to early Jun. Leaves Yakutia in mid-Aug, E Mongolia Aug, L Baikal late Aug, Japan from late Sept with migration through Oct and early Nov. Regular passage migrant in Java, though relatively few migrant records from Borneo and Sumatra. Recorded across Wallacea, rarely as winter visitor but mainly as passage migrant: Sulawesi Sept-Oct and Jan-Mar, Halmahera late Sept and early Apr, Buru late Nov and early Dec, Flores mid-Aug to mid-Apr, Timor Sept-Nov and Mar, and Aru Is early Apr. Migrates through Malay Peninsula mid-Sept to mid-Nov and late May, recorded Talaud early Oct and S New Guinea mid-Oct to late Dec. Large numbers migrate through Riau Archipelago, in Strait of Malacca, late Apr. Often seen with Hirundapus species on passage. First mainland record in Cochinchina as recently as 1996, and probably under-recorded on passage throughout Indochina. Recently recorded in mid-winter in S Sumatra, where largest migrant group c. 220 moving S through Serkap early Oct. Vagrant within Russia W to Urals, to Britain Jun 1981 and May 1993, to Alaskan islands at least 10 times, Jun-Sept, and to Macquarie I in S Tasman Sea.

Distribution map

Fork-tailed Swift distribution range map

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