White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)

White-rumped Swift

[order] APODIFORMES | [family] Apodidae | [latin] Apus caffer | [UK] White-rumped Swift | [FR] Martinet caffre | [DE] Kaffernsegler | [ES] Vencejo cafre | [NL] Kaffergierzwaluw


Monotypic species

Physical charateristics

The White-rumped Swift is smaller than Common Swift, but with relatively longer and more forked tail. The head and body size are close to Little Swift, but wings average longer and tail circa 40% longer and deeply forked. Small, rather slim-bodied swift, with noticeably attenuated rear body and tail. Black-blue plumage relieved by grey-brown face, pale underside to flight-feathers, and narrow white band over upper rump.

Listen to the sound of White-rumped Swift

[audio:http://www.aviflevoland.nl/sounddb/W/White-rumped Swift.mp3]

Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 34 cm wingspan max.: 36 cm
size min.: 13 cm size max.: 15 cm
incubation min.: 21 days incubation max.: 25 days
fledging min.: 35 days fledging max.: 25 days
broods: 2   eggs min.: 1  
      eggs max.: 3  


Africa : widespread


Breeds locally in Spain and Morocco and takes over nests of hirundines and Little Swift. Bred originally (only in recent decades found in the Palearctic region) in caves and on rock faces in hills, but now largely switched to artefacts such as concrete or iron road or rail culverts or bridges or house roofs. The White-rumped Swift has made this switch becasue the species they nest-parasite on, made the same switch. In south-west Europe, where breeding occurs in nests of Red-rumped Swallow under rocky outcrops, birds forage over adjacent farmland.


Breeding season in Spain from end of May. This species may have up to 3, but mostly 2. In Spain the species uses solely old nests of Red-rumped Swallow. In Africa, however, the White-rumped Swift sometimes breeds on ledge or in crevice of rock or building, as well as in nests of swallows and Little Swift. Lines old nests of swallows with feathers, which usually protrude from entrance. When breeding On ledges, These Swifts construct their own nest of straw and feathers cemented together with saliva to form a shallow cup. Clutch size 2 range from 1 to 3. The incubation lasts 21-25 days, young fledge after 35-53 days.

Feeding habits

Small flying insects caught 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 increasing, 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.
White-rumped Swift status Least Concern


Migratory in northernmost and southernmost parts of range. Spanish population present early May to Aug-Oct, some recorded into early Dec, with autumn migration through Straits of Gibraltar mid-Aug to mid-Oct; S African population present Aug-May, mainly absent from S Cape and much reduced farther N within S breeding range Jun-Jul. Poorly understood wet-season movements into Sahel may be feature of N sub-Saharan populations. Otherwise resident. Migrates in flocks of up to 100. S African migrants may be transequatorial. Some degree of altitudinal migration in Natal. First record from Rabia 1982, and seen at least once subsequently in Tihamah coastal plains, Saudi Arabia, in Mar 1989. Vagrant to Norway (May, Jun) and Finland (Nov).

Distribution map

White-rumped Swift distribution range map

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