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Common Swift

(Apus apus)
Alternate name(s): "Swift*"
German name(s): "Mauersegler"

Size: 17-18.5 cm; wingspan: 40-44 cm
Weight: 30-55 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Common Swift at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range


Click here for sighting information



Sex unknown

Near-frontal view of a Common Swift in flight; note the small throat patch and dark-grey frons (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, June 2015]

Ventral view of two Common Swifts in flight (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, May 2015]

Ventral view of a Common Swift in flight (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Split, Croatia, September 2019]

Outline of a Common Swift in flight against diffuse background light
[Rheinaue near Kiedrich, Rheinhessen, Germany, May 2010]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Apr - Sep Eggs: 1 - 4 Incubation period: 19 - 20 days Fledging age: 27 - 45 days

Usually two eggs are laid.

Nest building: Male selects site Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Common Swifts nest in loose colonies of up to 30-40 pairs, with each pair defending the immediate surroundings of its nest. Only one brood is produced per season, due to the long fledging period of the young.


Type: Hole/hollow in building, tree, cliff, crevace Material: Grass, leaves, hay, straw Height above ground: ?

Common Swift entering its nest hollow (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, May 2017]

Common Swift approaching the entrance to its nest hollow (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, June 2015]

Common Swifts outside the entrance to their nest hollow (photo courtesy of J. Pires)
[Mora, Evora, Portugal, May 2017]


Size: 25 x 17 mm Colour: White Shape: Long tapered oval


Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory Elementary unit: Pair/flock

Common Swifts have the unique ability to mate in-flight.

Food, Diet

Like other swifts, Common Swifts are insect hunters. They catch and devour their prey in-flight. Common Swifts also drink in-flight and, apart from nesting, will always be airborne.


For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

comswft_dw_20160529_2.mp3 (Poland) Contact calls (in-flight) © DW
comswft_dw_20160728.m4a (Poland) Contact calls (in-flight) © DW
comswft_dw_20170729.m4a (Poland) Hawking for insects (in-flight) © DW

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.