Saturday, 15 January 2011

African palm swift

Cypsiurus parvus

Photo by J.M. de Bruyn (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
African palm swift (en); andorinhão-das-palmeiras (pt); martinet des palmes (fr); vencejo palmero (es); palmensegler (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

This species is found throughout sub-Saharan Africa, including Madagascar. They are also found in the south-west of the Arabian Peninsula.

These birds are 16-17 cm long. They weigh 10-14 g.

The African palm swift generally prefers savannas and grasslands with with scattered palm trees. They are also found in towns with indigenous or exotic palms, such as Livistona and Washingtonia.

It almost exclusively eats flying insects, hunting mainly just above the tree canopy. They mostly take beetles, flies, termites and ants.

These monogamous birds can breed all year round, with a peak in August-November. Both sexes build the nest, which is a shallow cup of feathers and plant detritus, glued together with saliva. It is usually placed on the upper side of a palm frond. The female lays 1-3 eggs, which she immediately glues to the nest using her own saliva. The eggs are then incubated by both sexes for 18-22 days. The chicks are brooded and fed by both parents until fledging, which takes place 29-33 days after hatching.

IUCN status - LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large breeding range, being described as common to locally abundant. The African palm swift is not threatened at present.

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