Aerodramus hirundinaceus

Conservation status: 

Not Threatened.

Diagnostic description: 

A medium-sized swiftlet with a moderately forked tail, uniform dark brown upperparts, some birds with a suggestion of a paler rump, underparts pale grey to mild-grey, though mid-throat can be dark. Differs from sympatric A.vanikorensis by feathered tarsi, tiny, more decurved bill, greater white in rami of balck, darker, more blue-glosses upperparts and clearly paler underparts, and clearly paler underparts. Race baru has very dark upperparts, browner underparts and heavy tarsal feathering. Excelsus much larger than nominate. Capable of echolocation.



11-13 cm



    Collocalia fuciphaga hirundinacea Stresemann, 1914, Upper Utakwa River, New Guinea. Genus often merged into Collocalia. Forms superspecies with A. mearnsi, A. infuscatus, A.spodiopygius and A. terraereginae. Previously placed in composite species A. francicus or alternatively in A. vanikorensis; considered conspecific with A. spodiopygius by some authors. Three subspecies recognized. (source: Handbook of the Birds of World)

Subspecies and Distribution:

    * baru (Stresemann & Paludan, 1932) - Yapen I (in Geelvink Bay, NW New Guinea). * excelsus (Ogilvie-Grant, 1914) - over 1600 m in Snow Mts and Carstenz peaks, Irian Jaya. * hirundinaceus (Stresemann, 1914) - much of New Guinea.

Over vide variety of habitats, mainly in highlands, where recorded to 4000 m. FOOD: Gregaious insectivorous.

Trophic strategy: 

Gregaious insectivorous.


Active colony noted late Sept. The first study of the breeding biology of the Mountain Swiftlet, Aerodramus hirundinaceus, was undertaken in the Twin Falls Cave at 2120 m near Tembagapura in Irian Jaya on the island of New Guinea. The cave was only 70 m long, but contained up to 32 nests, which were mostly built of foliose lichens and a little saliva, and rested on ledges on the walls of the cave. Two nests were touching but the others were up to 185 cm apart; this is a large distance for swiftlets and may be caused by lethal pressures from ticks. The nests averaged 65 × 64 × 10.9 mm internal dimensions with external heights of 58–210 mm. The breeding season was at its lowest in April–May when no nests (1994) and one nest (1993) was occupied and at its height between October and December when 21–24 nests were occupied. The clutch is one, weighing 2.00 g, which is ~20% of average adult weight, and is incubated by both parents. Replacement of lost eggs or young took a minimum of 6–43 days and a maximum of 13–64 days. Adults moulted while breeding. Fledging occurred in 67–74 days. Nestlings were fed 1–8 times a day, with parents never remaining at the nest for more than 5 minutes. Hatching success rate was 77% and the fledging success rate was 61%.

Scratchpads developed and conceived by (alphabetical): Ed Baker, Katherine Bouton Alice Heaton Dimitris Koureas, Laurence Livermore, Dave Roberts, Simon Rycroft, Ben Scott, Vince Smith