African Black Swift | Apus barbatus

African Black Swift General Birding Info

The African Black 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 African Black Swift (Latin name Apus barbatus) can be found in the 7th Edition of the Roberts Birds of Southern Africa. The Apus barbatus can be quickly identified by its unique Roberts identification number of 412 and the detailed description of this bird is on page 238. You will find a picture of the African Black 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 Black Swift in the Roberts 6th Edition. There have been no changes in the Latin name for the African Black Swift between the Roberts 6th and Roberts 7th Edition.

The African Black Swift is known in Afrikaans as Swartwindswael.

The African Black Swift has a height of 19 cms and weighs around 42 gms. The head is coloured grey, brown while the bill is coloured black. The Apus barbatus has a white coloured throat, pink legs and a black 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 grey, brown.

Eyes are brown.

Bill is black.

Legs are pink.

Throat is white.

Back is black.

Photo's & Differentiating Between Male, Female & Juveniles

Please click the images below to make them larger:

Male Adult  
Female Adult  
Juvenile  
Non Breeding Plumage N/A

African Black Swift Feeding Habits ...

The Apus barbatus 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.

African Black Swift Breeding, Habitat and Nesting Habits ...

The African Black Swift is a monogamous bird which means that the bird finds and breeds with one partner for the rest of its life. The bird lays between 2 eggs and they are coloured white.

The nest is built high up in the tree canopy and is protected from predators by branches and the dense green foliage.

The bird is mainly found in the Savanna grasslands where it breeds and feeds.

This bird is very common in most of the Southern African Forests.

Seen in Flocks, Singles or Pairs Normally ...

The African Black Swift is mainly seen singly or in pairs in the wild.

It is also seen in flocks.