Birda Logo
A photo of a White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer)
White-rumped Swift

White-rumped Swift

Apus caffer

The White-rumped Swift (Apus caffer) is a small, agile bird, measuring 14–15.5 cm in length. It is characterized by its long, swept-back wings that form a crescent or boomerang shape, and a short, forked tail. The plumage is predominantly dark with the exception of a pale throat patch and a distinctive narrow white rump, which contrasts sharply with its darker body.

Identification Tips

To identify the White-rumped Swift, look for its slimmer build and darker coloration compared to the Little Swift. The tail is more deeply forked, and the white rump is narrower, providing key visual cues to distinguish between these closely related species.


The White-rumped Swift is typically found in areas where its hosts, such as the Red-rumped Swallow, build their nests. This often leads them to man-made structures like bridges and buildings, where they can take over existing nests.


This swift has a broad breeding range across sub-Saharan Africa, extending into Morocco and southern Spain. While tropical African populations are generally resident, those in Spain, Morocco, and southern Africa are migratory. Their exact wintering grounds remain a mystery, but seasonal movements are noted.


The White-rumped Swift exhibits typical swift-like behavior, spending the majority of its life airborne. It has very short legs used only for clinging to vertical surfaces and never voluntarily lands on the ground. It captures insects mid-flight for nourishment and is known to drink while on the wing.

Song & Calls

Compared to its relative, the Little Swift, the White-rumped Swift is a quieter bird. However, it does produce a twittering trill that can occasionally be heard.


This species is known for taking over the nests of other birds, such as the Little Swift and various swallows that construct retort-shaped nests. The White-rumped Swift will either drive away the original nest owners or simply occupy the nest and refuse to leave. Once in possession, they line the nest with feathers and saliva and lay one or two eggs.

Similar Species

The White-rumped Swift can be confused with the Little Swift, but careful observation of its slimmer profile, more forked tail, and narrower white rump can help differentiate the two.

Diet and Feeding

The diet of the White-rumped Swift consists primarily of insects, which they adeptly catch with their beaks while in flight.

Conservation status

The IUCN Red List classifies the White-rumped Swift as Least Concern, indicating that the species does not currently face any significant threats to its survival.

White-rumped Swift Sounds

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

White-rumped Swifts 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
Just what birding needs
We need more fun in birding, for years it has had a reputation for being up tight and stuffy and only perused by retirees and anoraks. Birda helps change that perception and firmly brings birding into the 21st century! Fun, interactive while still contributing to science and conservation. If you aren’t on it, why not??
Fantastic App
This is a really lovely app, for everyone interested in birds - from newbies to old hands. There is a very friendly feel to the community and you will genuinely learn a lot as you record your sightings and photos. There are lots of badges and competitions to keep you engaged, and a host of really useful features.
Emma L
App got me interested in birding!
Super friendly community <3 This app got me interested in birding! It teaches me cool stuff and its super friendly, and fun :) The species guide is really developing my knowledge, and i love seeing cool new birds from round the world!
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¦…
A mordern game changer
Birda is an awesome app, its updated the world of birding to the modern day with a fun and easy to use app. It’s engaging and allows positive interaction with fellow bird lovers!
Great bird recording
For a while I’ve been trying to find an app to easily record bird lists and day out and struggled to find one that I like. Birda is great for this, straightforward and a great community!
Stewart W
Fantastic to be involved
Fantastic to be involved, great for mental health and gets you responding with the Challenges that are to takd part in.
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.
Robred 2
Fun way to add to your birdwatching experience
I enjoy watching birds in my backyard, but this app helped me really pay attention while on vacation this summer. It was fun to add new birds to my bird watching app.
Really useful
Downloaded to give it a try, everything worked perfectly, recorded my first bird watching walk. Very impressed. Have already recommended to friends!
As featured in
Connect with nature,
Find your flock
Download Birda - QR Code
Β© 2024 All rights reserved