Mottled swift

Mottled swift
Tachymarptis aequatoria

Photo by Fran Trabalon (Internet Bird Collection)

Common name:
mottled swift (en); andorinhão-malhado (pt); martinet marbré (fr); vencejo ecuatorial (es); schuppensegler (de)

Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae

This African species is patchily distributed in sub-Saharan Africa, from Senegal to Sudan and south to Angola and through Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania down to Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

These large swifts are 22 cm long and weigh 90-95 g.

The mottled swift breeds in granite outcrops, foraging over nearby wetlands, dry scrublands, dry grasslands, dry savannas and also over urban areas. They are mostly present at altitudes of 2.000-3.000 m.

They catch flying insects on the wing, mainly bees, wasps, flying ants, termite alates, flies and beetles.

Mottled swifts breed in June-January. They are monogamous, nesting in colonies of about 25 pairs. The nest is a strongly-built half cup with a rim of feathers, seeds and leaves, glued together with saliva and typically placed beneath an overhang or in the vertical crack of a cave. There the female lays 1-3 eggs which are incubated by both sexes. There is no information regarding the length of the incubation period, but the chicks possibly fledge about 28 days after hatching.

IUCN status – LC (Least Concern)
This species has a very large but patchy breeding range. The mottled swift is reported to be common to abundant throughout its range and the population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats.

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