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A photo of a Australian Swiftlet (Aerodramus terraereginae)
Australian Swiftlet

Australian Swiftlet

Aerodramus terraereginae

The Australian swiftlet, Aerodramus terraereginae, is a diminutive avian species from the swift family, Apodidae. This bird is characterized by its dark grey-brown upperparts and uniform greyish underparts, with a slight fork in its tail. Notably, the forehead and lores are adorned with pale feathers. The rump varies from pale greyish to occasionally darker shades.

Identification Tips

Adults measure between 11 to 12 centimeters in length, with a wingspan of 107 to 118.2 millimeters, and weigh between 10.5 to 12.5 grams. The subspecies A. t. chillagoensis, known as the Chillagoe swiftlet, is smaller and paler, tipping the scales at approximately 9.39 grams.


The Australian swiftlet is endemic to Queensland, Australia, favoring tropical environments. It is commonly found below 500 meters but can be observed up to 1,000 meters above sea level.


The subspecies A. t. terraereginae is distributed in north-east Queensland from the Claudie River on the Cape York Peninsula to the Eungella Range near Mackay, including several offshore islands. The A. t. chillagoensis is found inland around Chillagoe, west of the Great Dividing Range.


This swiftlet is a sociable bird, often seen foraging in flocks. It hunts within a 30-kilometer radius of its breeding colony, typically leaving the nest for about 30 minutes to capture prey.

Song & Calls

In flight, the Australian swiftlet emits a high-pitched call. Within the confines of its breeding caves, it produces a metallic clicking sound, which serves as a means of echolocation.


Breeding season spans from July to March, with colonies nesting in caves or among boulders. The nest, a translucent basket-shaped structure, is crafted from a mixture of saliva, grasses, casuarina needles, twigs, and feathers. Each breeding season sees two clutches, each with a single white egg. Both parents share the incubation duties for approximately 26.5 days, with the warmth from the first chick aiding the incubation of the second egg. The chick remains in the nest for 46 to 51 days post-hatching.

Diet and Feeding

The diet consists of insects and drifting spiders, which the swiftlet captures mid-flight. It typically hunts over rainforest edges, savannas, pastures, beaches, and gorges.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the Australian swiftlet as Least Concern, indicating a stable population without significant threats to its survival.

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Australian Swiftlets on Birda

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Elon Musk
06 Mar 2024 - 12:36am

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