Apus barbatus (African black
swift, Black swift)
Swartwindswael [Afrikaans]; Ihlabankomo, Ihlankomo
(generic names for swifts) [Xhosa]; iHlabankomo (generic name for swift),
iHlolamvula, iJankomo [Zulu]; Sisampamema (generic term for swallows, martins,
swifts and spinetails) [Kwangali]; Lehaqasi (generic term for swifts) [South
Sotho]; Nkonjana (generic term for swift) [Tsonga]; Pêolwane, Phêtla (generic
terms for swifts, martins and swallows) [Tswana]; Kaapse gierzwaluw [Dutch];
Martinet du Cap [French]; Kapsegler [German]; Andorinhão-preto-africano
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The African black swift occurs in large areas of sub-Saharan
Africa, with the bulk of its population in eastern as well as southern Africa.
It feeds primarily on flying insects, often hunting in mixed species flocks,
especially during termite alate emergences. It can cover around 1000 km's in one
day's hunting, after which it usually roosts in rock crevices or tree cavities.
Its breeding habits are little known, however it is thought to be a monogamous,
colonial nester, building a nest made of feathers and grass, glued together with
its saliva. It is usually placed in rock crevices or caves, often in cliff
Distribution and habitat
Occurs from Uganda and eastern DRC, through Tanzania,
Zambia and Malawi to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally abundant in South Africa and Zimbabwe, with
smaller populations in eastern Mozambique and south-eastern Botswana. It flies
over a variety of habitats, however it generally prefers rocky,
Distribution of African black swift in southern Africa,
based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas
Animal Demography unit, University of
Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range
from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).
See here for the latest distribution
from the SABAP2.
It feeds primarily on flying insects,
often hunting in mixed species flocks, especially during termite alate
emergences. It can cover around 1000 km's in one day's hunting, after which it
usually roosts in rock crevices or tree cavities. The following food items have
been recorded in its diet:
- Its breeding habits are little known, however it is
thought to be a monogamous colonial nester, sometimes breeding in colonies
together with Alpine swift.
- The nest is a thin and strongly built pad, made of
feathers, grass and sometimes thistle down, glued together with saliva.
It is usually placed in rock crevices or caves, often in cliff faces.
- It is thought to lay about 2 eggs, usually in the month of September.
Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of
southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book
Fund, Cape Town.