Common Swift | Apus apus

Robert's Birding Information: Common Swift

The Common Swift is a Southern African bird that belongs to the Apodidae bird family group which includes birds such as Typical Swifts.

The description for the Common Swift (Latin name Apus apus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Apus apus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 411 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 237. You will find a picture of the Common Swift on page 257.

NOTE: The reference for the information following is "Roberts Birds of Southern Africa", 7th Edition*. This edition contained a number of taxonomic changes as well as changes to English names used traditionally and in earlier editions of most bird books in South Africa. The following paragraph notes such changes if any.

This bird is known as European Swift in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the Common Swift between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The Common Swift has a height of 17 cms and weighs around 40 gms. The head is coloured black, brown while the bill is coloured black. The Apus apus has a white coloured throat, black legs and a black, brown coloured back. The eyes are brown.

Take note of the bird's main distinguishing features such as colour, size and leg length relative to the body size of the bird. Colours of a bird's body parts can be helpful. Be aware what may appear brown to one person is described in Roberts Birds using some other word ... for example brown, black. See colours used in Roberts.

Head is black, brown.

Eyes are brown.

Bill is black.

Legs are black.

Throat is white.

Back is black, brown.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult  
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

Common Swift Feeding Habits ...

The Apus apus attacks its prey aerially and feeds on wing or takes the prey to a secluded venue where it is killed, torn into small pieces and eaten.

This bird eats insects such as butterflies, bees, wasps, locusts and ants. These invertebrates are usually hawked aerially, killed and then eaten.

Common Swift Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The bird is found in the African bushveld.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

This bird is usually seen in small family groups or in large flocks.