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Species Guide

Costa Rican Swift

Chaetura fumosa

The Costa Rican swift, a sleek bird of the air, is a species of swift belonging to the Apodidae family. With a length of approximately 11 cm (4.3 in), both male and female Costa Rican swifts share a similar dusky head and sooty black upperparts that gleam with a blue gloss. A pale grayish rump and dull black uppertail coverts complement their plumage, while their throat and breast are of a lighter pale grayish hue.

Identification Tips

When observing the Costa Rican swift, look for its sooty black plumage with a subtle blue sheen and contrastingly pale grayish underparts. The bird's small size and swift, agile flight are also key characteristics that aid in its identification.


This swift frequents a variety of environments, from several forest types to semi-open areas, pastures, and agricultural fields. It is most commonly found at elevations below 900 m (3,000 ft), but can also be spotted up to 1,200 m (3,900 ft) in the more humid parts of its range.


The Costa Rican swift graces the skies of southwestern Costa Rica and extends its range into western Panama's Chiriquí Province. While some records suggest its presence in Colombia, these are not confirmed by the South American Classification Committee of the American Ornithological Society.


The Costa Rican swift is a year-round resident within its range, often seen foraging in flocks that may include other swift species and swallows. When in the company of its own kind, these flocks can number up to 50 individuals.

Song & Calls

This swift communicates with high-pitched calls, including single 'weet', 'tsew', or 'tsee' notes. It also produces longer twittering series such as 'titititititititi' or 'titititrrrr', which can be heard as it darts through the sky.


Currently, the breeding behaviors, including the phenology, nest, and eggs of the Costa Rican swift, remain a mystery to ornithologists.

Diet and Feeding

As an aerial insectivore, the Costa Rican swift captures its prey on the wing. It is thought to consume a diet similar to that of the band-rumped swift, which includes a variety of flying insects such as Diptera, Hymenoptera, and Coleoptera.

Conservation status

The IUCN has classified the Costa Rican swift as Least Concern. With an estimated population of 20,000 to 50,000 mature individuals, the species is considered stable and does not face any immediate threats. It is often the most common Chaetura swift within its range and is abundant in the Costa Rican lowlands, though rarer in Panama. The bird is also present in several protected areas.

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Costa Rican Swifts on Birda


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