Short-tailed Swift (Chaetura brachyura)

Short-tailed Swift

[order] APODIFORMES | [family] Apodidae | [latin] Chaetura brachyura | [UK] Short-tailed Swift | [FR] Martinet polioure | [DE] Stutzschwanz-Segler | [ES] Vencejo Rabon | [NL] Kortstaartgierzwaluw


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range
Aeronautes brachyura
Chaetura brachyura LA Panama through Amazonia
Chaetura brachyura brachyura Panama to Trinidad and the Guianas south to wc Brazil and n Bolivia
Chaetura brachyura cinereocauda nc Brazil
Chaetura brachyura ocypetes sw Ecuador, nw Peru
Chaetura brachyura praevelox Granada, St. Vincent and Tobago (s lesser Antilles)

Physical charateristics

The Short-tailed Swift is about 10.5 cm long, and weighs 20 g. It has long narrow wings, a robust body and a short tail. The sexes are similar. It is mainly black with a pale rump and tail. It can be distinguished from related species in its range, such as the Band-rumped Swift, C. spinicauda or the grey-rumped Swift, C. cinereiventris by the lack of contrast between the rump and the tail, the latter being much darker in the other species.

Listen to the sound of Short-tailed Swift

[audio: Swift.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 0 cm wingspan max.: 0 cm
size min.: 10 cm size max.: 11 cm
incubation min.: 17 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 13 days fledging max.: 18 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 4  
      eggs max.: 7  


Latin America : Panama through Amazonia


This small swift is found in a range of habitats including savanna, open woodland, and cultivation


The nest is a 5 cm wide shallow half-saucer of twigs and saliva attached to a vertical surface. This is often a man-made structure like a chimney or manhole, as with its relative, the Chimney Swift C. pelagica , but natural caves and tree cavities are also used.

Up to seven white eggs (average 3.7) are incubated by both parents for 17-18 days. The young leave the nest in a further two weeks, but remain near it, clinging to the cavity wall without flying, for another two weeks. Short-tailed Swifts Chaetura brachyura nest and
roost underground partway down the walls of manholes.

Feeding habits

The Short-tailed Swift feeds in flight on flying insects, including winged ants and termites. It is very gregarious and forms communal roosts when not breeding. Predation by bats at the nest sites has been suspected.


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.
Short-tailed Swift status Least Concern


Sedentary throughout range with some vagrancy reported

Distribution map

Short-tailed Swift distribution range map

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