Birda Logo
A photo of a White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)
White-throated Needletail

White-throated Needletail

Hirundapus caudacutus

The White-throated Needletail, known scientifically as Hirundapus caudacutus, is a remarkable swift, boasting a robust, barrel-like body. This avian marvel is predominantly greyish-brown, adorned with a distinctive white throat and a white patch that extends from the base of the tail to the flanks. With an average length of about 20 cm and a weight ranging between 110 and 120 grams, it is a large member of its genus.

Identification Tips

One can identify the White-throated Needletail by its unique tail, which ends in a spine rather than the typical fork seen in other swifts. This feature, along with its stout body and contrasting white markings, makes it unmistakable in the field.


These swifts favor the high cliffs and hollow trees for nesting, where they can tuck their nests into rock crevices, safely away from ground predators.


A migratory species, the White-throated Needletail breeds in the vast expanses of Central Asia and southern Siberia. When the northern winter beckons, it travels to warmer climes, wintering in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and Australia. Occasionally, it appears as a rare vagrant in Western Europe.


The White-throated Needletail is an aerial specialist, spending most of its life on the wing. It is seldom seen on the ground, preferring the freedom of the skies. It is reputed to be one of the fastest flying birds, potentially reaching speeds of up to 170 km/h in horizontal flight, although this speed remains unverified.

Diet and Feeding

In flight, it captures small, flying insects such as beetles, flies, bees, and moths, showcasing its incredible agility and speed.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the White-throated Needletail as Least Concern, indicating that, for now, this species does not face immediate threats to its survival.

Similar Species

While its general swift-like appearance may cause confusion, the White-throated Needletail's size, distinctive tail, and white throat patch set it apart from other swift species.


The breeding habits of the White-throated Needletail involve selecting inaccessible nesting sites on cliffs or in hollow trees, which provide protection and seclusion for their offspring.

Song & calls

The vocalizations of the White-throated Needletail are less well-documented, but like other swifts, it likely has a series of high-pitched calls used for communication while in flight.

In summary, the White-throated Needletail is a swift of impressive speed and agility, with a wide migratory range and a preference for life in the air. Its conservation status remains stable, allowing birdwatchers the continued opportunity to observe this swift's remarkable flight.

App logo
Birda is a birdwatching app and community aimed at curious people who want to deepen their connection with nature.

White-throated Needletails on Birda


More Swifts

Birda Logo

Your birdwatching journey like never before

Connect with nature in minutes
Take a walk, look out of the window and log the birds that you see. Feel good about those little connections to nature.
Discover the joy of birding
Find new birding spots, see more birds, share and celebrate with a like-minded community of nature lovers.
Play your part in saving nature
Logging your birding sightings and sessions turns into positive action for our planet. Every sighting counts.

Birda Blog

What Our Birders Say
Mike T
Sense of Community
A great app, which is continually being improved. What really comes through is the passion of those behind the app. The sense of community is brilliant, so much help and support provided to new and/or in experienced birders.
Birda fan
I really enjoy using Birda, all sightings are recorded and photos can be added. There are monthly challenges which help to get you out to record your sightings. The Birda community are great and are happy to help with unidentified bird sightings. Suitable for all ages and experience!
Hip An
Really enjoying Birda where I live i have a lot of Red kites really hard to photograph but I can video are you planning some place on the app where us Birda can post vidsπŸ¦‰πŸ¦…
Awesome App
I really enjoy using this app! It is such a friendly community of bird-lovers who are happy to help if I need ID advice. It’s been great motivation to get outdoors and go birding more! 10/10 😍😍
Makes you want to spot birds more
I think this app is fun. It makes you want to spot birds more so I guess in a way it encourages you to get out and about instead of sitting in front of the TV.
Jane N
A great app
Enjoying it immensely and finding it useful too. Recording the different birds and counting them is showing me how the present climate is affecting them all. I've trebled the numbers by planting native hedging. A great app.
Patricia L
Very encouraging birding app
Easy to use, fun to see progress and encouraging to receive feedback from other users.
Really useful
Downloaded to give it a try, everything worked perfectly, recorded my first bird watching walk. Very impressed. Have already recommended to friends!
Safira V
Birding and wellbeing app
Birda is an excellent platform to share your love of Birding and is a great tool of encouragement for a Birding Beginner like me. Birda has a very kind and supportive community of Birding enthusiasts. For me BIRDA is not only a BIRDING but also a WELLBEING App.
Louise L
Easy to use and accurate
Love this app. It is easy to use and accurate, Their backup communication is really good. I noted a missing species. All through the process, I was kept informed about the progress in correcting the information. I now have the corrected, updated version. 😁 Thanks!
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved