- Bates's Swift

Bates's Swift Apus batesi Scientific name definitions

Philip Chantler and Peter F. D. Boesman
Version: 1.0 — Published March 4, 2020
Text last updated December 7, 2012

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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.

Systematics History

Recent molecular phylogeny (1) placed this species in a clade with A. caffer, A. horus, A. nipalensis and A. affinis. Monotypic.




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

Not known.

Sounds and Vocal Behavior

No information.


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.

Distribution of the Bates's Swift
  • Year-round
  • Migration
  • Breeding
  • Non-Breeding
Distribution of the Bates's Swift

Recommended Citation

Chantler, P. and P. F. D. Boesman (2020). Bates's Swift (Apus batesi), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.batswi1.01