Order: Apodiformes

Family: Apodidae

Scientific name: Apus affinis, JE Gray, 1830

IUCN Red list status-Least Concern

Did you know?

  1. Little Swift is also known as House Swift.


The Little Swift is a small swift, measuring 12-13 cm in length and weighing 20-25 grams. The overall plumage of is glossy black or dark blackish brown. The forehead and upper tail coverts are paler. There is white throat patch. The wing is relatively short and blunt-ended.  The tail appears square ended when closed and rounded when open and it is pale gray and appears translucent in flight. The legs are very short and it is used to cling to a vertical surface. The bill is small and black. The irises are dark brown. Both sexes look similar.


The diet of Little Swift consists mainly of flying insects. Flies, airborne spiders, moths, butterflies, flying termites and ants, dragonflies, locust, cicadas, grasshoppers, crickets and mantises are their primary food. They are excellent aerial foragers and hawks insects on the wing. They drink by skimming the water surface while flying. The hatchlings are fed with food balls, a mass of insects bound together by saliva. Forage time is mainly day and it is done in groups


The habitat of Little Swift mangrove vegetations, dry grasslands, lowland forests, manmade structures like ancient forts, ruined buildings, underside of bridges etc. In India, it is distributed in the above habitats patchily throughout the union. They are also seen in Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Sri Lanka

Reproductive Behaviour

The breeding season is from February to September. The nesting sites include man-made structures, temples, dams, underside of bridges, abandoned swallow nests and cliff sites. They are colonial breeders. Sometimes two or three birds lay eggs in one nest. The nest is a hemispherical bag is made of grass, down feathers, small twigs and feathers glued and fixed to the vertical surface with saliva. The inner part may be line carefully. Normally 1-3 white eggs are laid. Both the parents incubate the eggs for 22-24 days. When the young ones come, they are cared by both parents.


The call is a rapid twittering descending “ti-ti-ti-tititrrrr” sound.

Related Species and Sub Species

  • Common Swift (Apus apus).
  • Plain Swift (Apus unicolor).
  • Dark Rumped Swift (Apus acuticauda).
  • Apus affinis singalensis of southern India and Sri Lanka.
  • Apus affinis theresae of Angola, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Namibia and South Africa.
  • Apus affinis galilejensis of northwest Africa, Sudan, Ethiopia and northwest Somalia.

Migratory Behaviour

Common Resident