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White-throated Swift

Aeronautes saxatalis

Length: 6.5 inches Wingspan: 14 inches Seasonality: Summer
ID Keys: Black upperparts, wings, and tail.  White throat, breast, and white stripe down a black belly.

White-throated Swift - Aeronautes saxatalisThe White-throated Swift is a species of the western U.S., generally found around canyons and cliffs where they breed.  In recent decades, they have also begun to utilize highway overpasses and crevices in buildings for nesting.  However, they may be found in almost any habitat in the West, as birds forage many miles away from their nesting location.  They have been called the fastest of all flying North American birds, reaching speeds that may be in excess of 200 miles per hour.

Habitat: Can be found in nearly any habitat with available flying insects.  They primarily breed on cliffs and canyons, however, and occasionally in crevices of buildings.

Diet: Feeds on flying insects.

Behavior: Forages exclusivity while in flight.

Nesting: June and July in South Dakota.  The nest is a shallow, half-cup made of vegetative material and feathers, bound together with the bird's own saliva.  The nest is placed in a protected, usually inaccessible location, such as a vertical crevice in a rocky cliff face. The female lays between 4 and 5 eggs, and both parents help to incubate the eggs.  Upon hatching, both parents help tend to the young.

Song: A ringing he-he-he-he-he

Migration: Summers in the western United States.  Winters in the Southwest U.S., Mexico, and Central America. 

Interactive eBird map: Click here to access an interactive eBird map of White-throated Swift sightings

Similar Species: Chimney Swift, Black Swift

Conservation Status: Generally stable throughout its range.   The IUCN lists the White-throated Swift as a species of "Least Concern".

Further Information: 1) USGS Patuxent Bird Identification InfoCenter, White-throated Swift

2) Cornell Lab of Ornithology - White-throated Swift

3) White-throated Swift

Photo Information: April 20th, 2006 - Spokane County, Washington - Michael Woodruff, 2006


Click on the map below for a higher-resolution view
White-throated Swift - Range Map
South Dakota Status: Common migrant and summer resident in the far western part of the state.  Accidental eastward.

Additional White-throated Swift Photos (coming soon!)