Black Swift

Cypseloides niger

Order

APODIFORMES

Family

Swifts (Apodidae)

Code 4

BLSW

Code 6

CYPNIG

ITIS

ILLUSTRATION

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PHOTOS

CONSERVATION STATUS

Least Concern

The Black Swift has a large breeding range of 1,270,000 square kilometers. It breeds behind waterfalls and on coastal cliffs in scattered areas of western Canada and the western United States, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Wintering areas for this species are unknown but expected to be in South America. The Black Swift has an estimated breeding population of 190,000 and a conservation rating of Least Concern.

IBIRD EXPLORER GENERAL

PHOTO SHARING AND DISCUSSION

BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY

SUMMARY

Overview

Black Swift: Large, bulky swift, black overall. Wrist (wing angle) is very close to body. Long, slightly forked tail, often fanned out. It is the largest North American swift. Spends most of its time thousands of feet in the air. It flies on stiff, shallow wingbeats. Soars on thermals and updrafts.

 

Range and Habitat

Black Swift: Breeds from extreme southern Alaska south to southern California and east to Montana and Colorado, and the breeding range extends south into Mexico. Spends winters in the tropics. Resident in Jamaica, Haiti, and Dominican Republic. Preferred habitats include mountains and coastal cliffs.

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Black Swift SONGS AND CALLS

Black Swift A1

Call is a soft, high-pitched twitter.

Black Swift A2

Calls from birds flying near the mouth of a cave.

Similar Sounding


Voice Text

"ci-chi-chi-chit"

INTERESTING FACTS

  • Breeding Bird Survey trend analysis shows a 6.3% per year decline from 1966-2001. Of major concern is the fact that some of the greatest declines are in its British Columbia breeding range where it has traditionally occurred in highest abundance.
  • The Black Swift is the largest swift in the U.S. and Canada. Often called the cloud swift, these birds feed on aerial insects and hunt in the rising air masses that sweep large numbers of insects into the sky.
  • They are thought to winter in South America but the location of its wintering grounds remain a mystery. In general they never occur in very high abundance except occasionally, flocks of thousands have been seen in its British Columbia range.
  • A group of swifts are collectively known as a "box", "flock", "screaming frenzy", and "swoop" of swifts.

SIMILAR BIRDS

RANGE MAP NORTH AMERICA

About this North America Map

This map shows how this species is distributed across North America.

FAMILY DESCRIPTION

TERMINOLOGY

CREDITS

Author

Gary Owen Dick

Artist

Yury Lisyak

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