Order: Apodiformes

Family: Apodidae

Scientific name: Aerodramus unicolor, Jerdon, 1840

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Indian Swiftlet is also known as Indian Edible-nest Swiftlet.
  2. Indian Swiftlet’s nest is edible and it is harvested occasionally for making soups and other cuisines.


The Indian Swiftlet is a small, aerial, insectivorous bird, measuring 10-12 cm in length and 13-14 in weight. They have shallow forked tail. They are dark brown on the upperparts and pale greyish brown on the under parts. In flight they give crescent appearance. They have very short legs, which are used for clinging to vertical surfaces of caves. Both sexes look similar.


Indian Swiftlets are insectivorous and catch their prey and feed as they fly. Their diet usually consists of flies, sawflies, wasps, bees, cicadas, flying termites, flying ants, beetles, locust, grasshoppers, airborne spiders, butterflies etc. They are exceptionally agile in flight similar to fluttering of bats and drink by skimming the water surface while flying. The hatchlings are fed with small balls which is a mass of insects bound together by saliva. The forage time is mainly day and it is done in groups.


Indian Swiftlet inhabits in large colonies in rocky hills and hillside forests with suitable cave systems for roosting and nesting. They use the method of echolocation similar to bats to navigate in dark caves. In India it is distributed along the coastal area and Western Ghats from south Konkan to Kerala. They are also found in Sri Lanka

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season of the Indian Swiftlet is from March to June. The nest is constructed by the male by binding feathers, grass and mosses with its gummy saliva, which is the main component. The shiny half-cup nest is stuck to the vertical cave walls. Normally two eggs are laid. The incubation period is 20-25 days. Both sexes share the parental duties. In some countries the nest harvesting is done during this time since it is a highly demanded food item. In such care the Swiftlets may do one or two additional broods.


The call is shill “chwee-chwee-chwee” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Black Nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus maximus).
  • Australlian Swiftlet (Aerodramus terraereginae).
  • Himalayan Swiftlet (Aerodramus brevirostris).
  • Edible Nest Swiftlet (Aerodramus fuciphagus).
  • Mascarene Swiftlet (Aerodramus francicus).

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident.