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14 cm. Small swift with structure most similar to A. caffer, with deeply forked tail; distinctive high-speed flight with rapid flickering wingbeats and occasional short glides. Very black plumage relieved only by typical underwing contrast and indistinctly paler throat-patch. Plumage the most uniform of any Apus.
Liberia and Guinea E very locally to Ghana, Nigeria and Cameroon, S to Gabon and N Congo. Also reported from E Sierra Leone, where status uncertain; old records (late 1930s) from E DRCongo (Semliki Valley).
Occurs in rainforest zone near rocky extrusions where cliff swallows, especially Dusky Cliff-swallow (Hirundo fuliginosa), present. In N Liberia, reported at 500–1500 m.
Diet and Foraging
Sounds and Vocal Behavior
Breeds Sept–Mar in Gabon, probably Mar and maybe Jan in Liberia, and lays May–Jun in Cameroon. Solitary, nesting in deserted nests of H. fuliginosa and probably Lesser Striped Swallows (H. abyssinica), which has led to suggestion that other hirundine nests may be used; recorded examining nests of Telacanthura ussheri. Lines nest interior and spout with feathers, seed-down and saliva. 2 white eggs.
Not globally threatened. Generally rare, but abundance varies and can be locally frequent, with 20–30 birds seen along R Semliki (E DRCongo) on three occasions in Oct during late 1930s. Commonest in highlands of Cameroon. Widespread but uncommon in N Liberia.