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Black Swift Cypseloides niger


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Black Swift, on nest
credit: terrygray/CCSA

© Lang Elliot/ (audio)

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Family: Apodidae, Swifts view all from this family

Description ADULT Has mainly blackish plumage, but, seen from below, flight feathers are paler than rest of body. At very close range, white fringes to feathers on head and underparts may be noted. JUVENILE Similar, but pale feather margins are more striking on belly and undertail.

Dimensions Length: 7-7 1/2" (18-19 cm)

Habitat Local summer visitor (mainly May-Sep), favoring coastal and mountain cliffs, often in vicinity of waterfalls or damp gullies.

Observation Tips Visit suitable damp, shady cliff habitats within range to find this species.

Range Southwest, Alaska, Rocky Mountains, Northwest, California, Western Canada

Voice Mostly silent, but chattering calls sometimes heard.

Discussion Medium-sized, dark-looking swift with narrow, pointed wings. Rear body tapers; slightly forked tail looks square-ended when fanned. Catches insects on the wing and flight pattern varies from incredibly fast, with rapid maneuvers, to relatively slow and relaxed. Sexes are similar.