Hirundo caudacuta Latham, 1801, New South Wales, Australia. Two subspecies.
OTHER COMMON NAMES
English: Spine-tailed swift, needle-tailed swift, northern or Asiatic needletail; French: Martinet йpineaux; German: Stachelschwanzsegler; Spanish: Vencejo Mongol.
7.3–7.6 in (19–20 cm); 4.0–5.2 oz (109–140 g). Brown body with off-white mantle and white throat, forehead, and markings on flanks and undertail-coverts; dark wings with blue gloss fading to green on remiges and coverts. Juveniles have black terminal tips to some of the undertail-coverts.
Forested areas from central Siberia east to Sachalin, Kurile Islands, and northern Japan; southern Himalayas; wintering in Australia and New Zealand, and to sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island. Accidental in Seychelles, western Europe, and British Isles. Only North American records in Pribiloff Islands.
Dense old-growth forest with abundance of dead and hollow trees; occasionally roosts in large eucalyptus groves.
Often occurs in large flocks; sometimes forages close to trees, even striking the vegetation to flush out insect prey. Considered to be one of the fastest flying birds, reaching speeds in excess of 100 mi/hr (170 km/hr).
FEEDING ECOLOGY AND DIET
A wide diversity of insects and spiders.
Uses hollow interior of large forest trees as nest sites. Clutch ranges from two to seven eggs, which are incubated starting with the first egg causing hatching to be asynchronous. Breeding in late May through the middle of June; migration begins in late September and early October.
Species is not in need of any conservation measures.
SIGNIFICANCE TO HUMANS
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