Fork-tailed Palm Swifts

The Fork-tailed Palm Swift, Tachornis squamata, is a resident breeding bird from Colombia, Venezuela, the Guianas and Trinidad south to northeastern Peru and Brazil.

This small swift is found locally in marshy habitats, or sometimes open forest, usually near Moriche Palms.

Nesting / Breeding

It builds a C-shaped nest of feathers, saliva and plant material on the inside of the dead leaf of a Moriche Palm. Three white eggs are laid in the depression of the C, and incubated for 21 days to hatching.


Fork-tailed Palm Swift is a slender, narrow-winged species, 13.2 cm long, with a long forked tail, and weighs 11 g.

The nominate western form T. s. squamata has black-brown upperparts with a slight greenish gloss. The underparts are a paler brown with a white throat and central underbody. The eastern race T. s. semota of Trinidad, the Guianas and central and eastern Brazil is much darker, almost steel-black above and darker brown below.

Juveniles are very similar, but have buff fringes to the upperparts and head in fresh plumage.

Despite its shape and association with palms, it is in a different genus to the Asian and African Palm Swifts.

Calls / Vocalizations

The call is a buzzed djjjjjj, like an insect.

Diet / Feeding

Fork-tailed Palm Swift feeds in low flight on flying insects. It normally stays at less than 10 m above the ground. It normally occurs in small groups of up to 30 birds.


  • BirdLife International (2004). Tachornis squamata. 2006. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006. Database entry includes justification for why this species is of least concern
  • Swifts by Chantler and Driessens, ISBN 1-873403-83-6
  • Hilty, Steven L (2003). Birds of Venezuela. London: Christopher Helm. International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 0-7136-6418-5.
  • ffrench, Richard (1991). A Guide to the Birds of Trinidad and Tobago (2nd edition ed.). Comstock Publishing. International Standard Book Number (ISBN) 0-8014-9792-2.

External links

  • Fork-tailed Palm Swift photo gallery VIREO
  • Photo-High Res; Article
Photo of author

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