Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (Panyptila cayennensis)

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift

[order] APODIFORMES | [family] Apodidae | [latin] Panyptila cayennensis | [UK] Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift | [FR] Martinet de Cayenne | [DE] Kleiner Schwalbensegler | [ES] Vencejo Tijereta Chico | [NL] Cayenne-gierzwaluw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Cypsiurus cayennensis
Panyptila cayennensis LA widespread
Panyptila cayennensis cayennensis s Honduras to n Bolivia and se Brazil, Trinidad and Tobago
Panyptila cayennensis veraecrucis se Mexico to n Honduras

Physical charateristics

The Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift is a slender species, 12.7-13 cm long, and weighing 18 g. It has long narrow wings and a long forked tail, which is usually held tightly closed. It is mainly black with a white throat and upper breast and squarish white patches on the rear flanks. The sexes are similar.

The flight is very fast and dashing, although it will glide at height in a more leisurely fashion.

Listen to the sound of Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/L/Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 12 cm size max.: 14 cm
incubation min.: 20 days incubation max.: 22 days
fledging min.: 0 days fledging max.: 22 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 4  


Latin America : widespread


This small swift is found in range of habitats including forest clearings, more open woodland, and cultivation.


The nest is tubular, wider at the top, and with the entrance at its base. It is made of plant material and attached to a branch or a vertical surface. In the latter case, the entire length is fixed to the wall or trunk. Two or three white eggs are laid on a shelf in the upper part of the nest, and incubated by both parents.

Feeding habits

The Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift feeds in flight on flying insects, especially winged ants. It is less gregarious than other swifts and is usually seen as individuals or pairs. If other swift species are present it will normally feed above them, although it stays below Cypseloides species such as Chestnut-collared Swift.


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 is very large, and hence does not 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.
Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift status Least Concern


Sedentary throughout range with some vagrancy reported

Distribution map

Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift distribution range map

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