Apus barbatus (African black swift, Black swift)

Swartwindswael [Afrikaans]; Ihlabankomo, Ihlankomo (generic names for swifts) [Xhosa]; iHlabankomo (generic name for swift), iHlolamvula, iJankomo [Zulu]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins, swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Lehaqasi (generic term for swifts) [South Sotho]; Nkonjana (generic term for swift) [Tsonga]; Pêolwane, Phêtla (generic terms for swifts, martins and swallows) [Tswana]; Kaapse gierzwaluw [Dutch]; Martinet du Cap [French]; Kapsegler [German]; Andorinhão-preto-africano [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Apodiformes > Family: Apodidae

Apus barbatus (African black swift, Black swift) Apus barbatus (African black swift, Black swift)
African black swift, Milnerton Sewage Works, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©] African black swift, Luneberg, South Africa. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ©]
Apus barbatus (African black swift, Black swift)

African black swift, Milnerton Sewage Works, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ©]

The African black swift occurs in large areas of sub-Saharan Africa, with the bulk of its population in eastern as well as southern Africa. It feeds primarily on flying insects, often hunting in mixed species flocks, especially during termite alate emergences. It can cover around 1000 km's in one day's hunting, after which it usually roosts in rock crevices or tree cavities. Its breeding habits are little known, however it is thought to be a monogamous, colonial nester, building a nest made of feathers and grass, glued together with its saliva. It is usually placed in rock crevices or caves, often in cliff faces.

Distribution and habitat

Occurs from Uganda and eastern DRC, through Tanzania, Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally abundant in South Africa and Zimbabwe, with smaller populations in eastern Mozambique and south-eastern Botswana. It flies over a variety of habitats, however it generally prefers rocky, mountainous areas.

Distribution of African black swift in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Predators

Food 

It feeds primarily on flying insects, often hunting in mixed species flocks, especially during termite alate emergences. It can cover around 1000 km's in one day's hunting, after which it usually roosts in rock crevices or tree cavities. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:

Breeding

  • Its breeding habits are little known, however it is thought to be a monogamous colonial nester, sometimes breeding in colonies together with Alpine swift.
  • The nest is a thin and strongly built pad, made of feathers, grass and sometimes thistle down, glued together with saliva. It is usually placed in rock crevices or caves, often in cliff faces.
  • It is thought to lay about 2 eggs, usually in the month of September.

Threats

Not threatened.

References

  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 

 
 

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