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African Palm-Swift
(Cypsiurus parvus)

African Palm-Swift

General description

African Palm Swifts are mainly pale brown in colour. They have long swept-back wings that resemble a crescent or a boomerang. The body is slender, and the tail is long and deeply forked, although it is usually held closed.

The call is a loud, shrill scream.

Sexes are similar, and young birds differ mainly in their shorter tails. Palm swifts have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces, since swifts never settle voluntarily on the ground.

Name & classification

Scientific name:
Cypsiurus parvus

Common names:
African Palm-Swift (English)
Palmwindswael (Afrikaans)

Palm Swift

Roberts VII english name:
African Palm-Swift

Roberts VII scientific name:
Cypsiurus parvus

Swifts (Apodidae)

Further information



These swifts spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks. Palm swifts often feed near the ground.

They even drink on the wing.

This is a fast flying bird of open country, which is strongly associated with oil palms but is also found in wooded savannah, thornbush and cultivated land.

It is a common resident breeder in tropical Africa. The down and feather nest is glued to the underside of a palm leaf with saliva, which is also used to secure the usually two eggs.

Natural distribution:
The African palm swift is native to most of Africa.

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