Uniform Swiftlets

Uniform Swiftlet (Collocalia vanikorensis)

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The Uniform Swiftlet (Collocalia vanikorensis), also known as the Vanikoro or Lowland Swiftlet, is a gregarious, medium-sized swiftlet with a shallowly forked tail. The colouring is dark grey-brown, darker on the upperparts with somewhat paler underparts, especially on chin and throat. This species is widespread from the Philippines through Wallacea, New Guinea and Melanesia. It forages for flying insects primarily in lowland forests and open areas. It nests in caves where it uses its sense of echolocation (a biological sonar), rare in birds, to navigate.


Description and ecology

The Uniform Swiftlet is a gregarious, medium-sized swiftlet with a shallowly forked tail. It is about 13 centimeters long with a wingspan averaging around 27 centimeters. It weighs about 11 grams. The colouring is dark grey-brown, darker on the upperparts with paler underparts, especially on chin and throat. It is similar to, and most likely to be confused with, the White-rumped Swiftlet or Mountain Swiftlet.


Taxonomy

Several subspecies are recognised, and the form C. v. inquietus is often split as the Caroline Islands Swiftlet, C. inquietus.


Distribution

This species is widespread from the Philippines through Wallacea, New Guinea and Melanesia. It has been recorded as a rare vagrant to Australia, from Cape York Peninsula and islands in Torres Strait.


Habitat

The Uniform Swiftlet forages over lowland forests and open areas.


Food

This species feeds on flying insects, especially ants.


Breeding

This species nests colonially in caves where it uses echolocation (a biological sonar) to navigate. The nest is a shallow cup of mossy material and saliva, usually attached to a vertical surface of a cave wall in the completely dark zone. One or two white eggs form the clutch.


Conservation

This is a common and widespread species assessed as being of Least Concern


References

  • Beehler, Bruce M.; and Finch, Brian W. (1985). Species Checklist of the Birds of New Guinea. RAOU Monograph No.1. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union: Melbourne. ISBN 0-9599823-2-9
  • Beehler, Bruce M.; Pratt, Thane K.; and Zimmerman, Dale A. (1986). Birds of New Guinea. Wau Ecology Handbook No.9. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0-691-02394-8
  • BirdLife International 2004. Collocalia vanikorensis. In: IUCN 2006. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Downloaded 12 March 2007
  • Coates, Brian J. (1985). The Birds of Papua New Guinea. Volume 1: Non-Passerines. Dover Publications: Alderley, Queensland. ISBN 0-9590257-0-7
  • Higgins, P.J. (ed). (1999). Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds. Volume 4: Parrots to Dollarbird. Oxford University Press: Melbourne. ISBN 0-19-553071-3

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