|Conservation status||Like other swifts, could be affected by overuse of pesticides. Currently common and widespread, numbers apparently stable.|
|Habitat||Open sky, cruising widely. May be seen in the air over virtually any western habitat, wherever there might be flying insects. Breeds in crevices in cliffs, mostly in dry mountains and canyons, locally on sea cliffs.|
Forages only in flight. May forage high or low, depending on weather conditions. Typically seen foraging in flocks.
4-5, sometimes 3-6. White, often becoming stained or spotted in the nest. Incubation is probably by both parents, about 20-27 days. Young: Apparently fed by both parents. Young are probably able to climb about inside nesting crevice before they are old enough to fly. Age at first flight may be about six weeks.
Apparently fed by both parents. Young are probably able to climb about inside nesting crevice before they are old enough to fly. Age at first flight may be about six weeks.
Flying insects. Feeds on a wide variety of flying insects, including flies, beetles, true bugs, wasps, and others. May feed heavily on winged adult ants during an emergence of these insects.
Many details of nesting remain poorly known, partly because the nest sites are so inaccessible. Courtship involves aerial displays; birds also mate while in flight, sometimes joining and then tumbling down for hundreds of feet. Nest site is usually in narrow vertical crevice in high cliff. Sometimes nests in crevices in buildings. Same site may be used for many years. Nest is shaped like shallow half saucer; made of feathers, weeds, grasses, glued together and to wall of crevice with the birds' saliva.
Illustration © David Allen Sibley.
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Text © Kenn Kaufman, adapted from
Lives of North American Birds
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Northern breeders move south in fall. Found all year in much of southwest (only swift likely to be seen in North America in winter). During cool winter weather, may become torpid to conserve energy.
- All Seasons - Common
- All Seasons - Uncommon
- Breeding - Common
- Breeding - Uncommon
- Winter - Common
- Winter - Uncommon
- Migration - Common
- Migration - Uncommon
See a fully interactive migration map for this species on the Bird Migration Explorer.Learn more
Songs and CallsA prolonged series of grating notes, jee-jee-jee-jee-jee.
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How Climate Change Will Reshape the Range of the White-throated Swift
Audubon’s scientists have used 140 million bird observations and sophisticated climate models to project how climate change will affect this bird’s range in the future.
Zoom in to see how this species’s current range will shift, expand, and contract under increased global temperatures.
Climate threats facing the White-throated Swift
Choose a temperature scenario below to see which threats will affect this species as warming increases. The same climate change-driven threats that put birds at risk will affect other wildlife and people, too.