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Little swift

Apus affinis
Photo by Trevor Hardaker (Biodiversity Explorer)

Common name:
little swift (en); andorinhão-pequeno (pt); martinet des maisons (fr); vencejo moro (es); haussegler (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

This species is found throughout most of sub-Saharian Africa, in north-west Africa and in scattered population across de Middle East, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

The little swift is 12 cm long and has a wingspan of 26-30 cm. They weigh 18-30 g.

They are mostly found breeding around human settlements or in rocky cliffs. They forage over a wide range of habitats, including forest, savanna, scrubland and grassland, and generally prefer to be in the proximity of a water source.

They feed exclusively on arthropods, hunting their prey on the wing. They are known to eat dragonflies, damselflies, moths, butterflies, bugs, beetles, lies, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, termite alates, mantids, lacewings, antlions and spiders.

Little swifts can breed all year rounds, varying between different parts of their range. They form small colonies of up to 30 pairs, each pair building an untidy closed bowl made of grass and feathers glued together with saliva. These nests are usually placed in human structures, such as in the eaves of buildings or under bridges, but it may also use cliffs. They sometimes also use abandoned or unfinished swallow nests. The female lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for 20-26 days. The chicks are fed by both parents and fledge 36-40 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least concern)
This species has an extremely large breeding range and is described as common in large parts of its range. The population is suspected to be increasing owing to a range expansion caused primarily by its adaptation to nesting in buildings.
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