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Species Guide

Band-rumped Swift

Chaetura spinicaudus

The band-rumped swift, a nimble avian species, is characterized by its protruding head, short square tail, and distinctive wings that both bulge in the middle and hook slightly at the ends. This bird measures between 10.5 to 12.6 cm in length and tips the scales at a modest 13.8 to 18.5 grams. Both sexes present a similar plumage, with adults donning black-brown upperparts and a notable white band across the rump. Their underparts are a dark hue, with a throat that is marginally paler.

Identification Tips

When observing the band-rumped swift, look for its white rump band which stands out against its darker body. Juveniles can be identified by the white tips on some of their wing feathers. The subspecies C. s. aetherodroma is slightly smaller than the nominate, with a grayer rump patch and a paler throat.


The band-rumped swift is typically found at the edges of lowland evergreen forests and secondary forests. In the Amazon, it also frequents highland forests and cleared areas, while in northern Venezuela, it is exclusively found in open areas.


The nominate subspecies inhabits eastern Venezuela, the Guianas, and north and central Brazil, with a small isolated population in coastal eastern Brazil. The subspecies C. s. aetherodroma ranges from central Panama through western Colombia to southwestern Ecuador.


This swift is a permanent resident throughout its range, known for its aerial prowess. It feeds in single-species flocks at fairly high altitudes, but when mingling with other swift species, it tends to occupy the lower strata of the flock.


The band-rumped swift is an aerial insectivore, dining on a diet primarily composed of Diptera, Hymenoptera, and Coleoptera. It is often seen feeding over water at dawn and dusk and has been observed momentarily hovering to snatch prey from foliage.


The breeding season of the band-rumped swift varies geographically, generally falling between February to June. On Trinidad, they nest in hollow trees, but much of their breeding biology remains a mystery.


The band-rumped swift's calls are distinctive. The nominate subspecies emits a bisyllabic 'pseee-trr' or a more burry 'prrrree-trtr', and occasionally a series of repeated notes 'tsee-tsee-tsee'. The vocalizations of the subspecies C. s. aetherodroma are less documented.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the band-rumped swift as Least Concern. It boasts a vast range and an estimated population of over 500,000 mature individuals. Although the population is believed to be slowly declining, no immediate threats have been identified. The species is considered uncommon to common in Ecuador and common to abundant in most other areas of its range, with many individuals residing in protected areas.

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Band-rumped Swifts on Birda

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David Luyt
08 Feb 2024 - 10:23pm

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