African Palm Swifts

African Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus)

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The African Palm Swifts (Cypsiurus parvus) are common resident breeders in tropical Africa. This fast flying bird is strongly associated with Oil Palms.

These small swifts resemble the Asian Palm Swift, Cypsiurus balasiensis, and were formerly considered to be the same species.



They measure about 16 cm in length, including the tail. The plumage is mostly pale brown. It has long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. The body is slender, and the tail is long and deeply forked, although it is usually held closed.

Males and females look alike, and young birds differ mainly in their shorter tails. Palm Swifts have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces, since swifts never settle voluntarily on the ground.


Diet / Feeding

These swifts spend most of their lives in the air, feeding on the insects they catch in their bills. They often feed near the ground and also drink on the wing.


Breeding / Nesting

The down and feather nest is glued to the underside of a palm leaf with saliva, which is also used to secure the usually two eggs.


Calls / Vocalizations

Its call is described as loud, shrill screams.

Species Research by Sibylle Johnson


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