Pallid Swift Apus pallidus brehmorum Hartert, 1901

Order: Apodiformes Family: Apodidae Status: Breeding in Madeira

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Pallid Swift Field ID Keys

Shape & Size

A fairly big swift with a stout body, broad head and wings and forked tail.

Colour Pattern

Pallid Swift is an all dark-brown bulky swift with a pallid forehead and throat patch. Its wingtips are darker than mid-wing.


In flight, it shows slightly slower wingbeats than Plain Swift or Common Swift and longer glides. It can sometimes be watched among flocks of Plain Swifts.


This species spreads all over the South of Europe, along with the Mediterranean coasts and islands. In Madeira, it is normally seen from riverbeds to mountains and deep valleys, though normally in higher altitudes than the Plain Swift. These birds migrate to Africa in the winter.

Distinction from similar species

Pallid swift when compared with Common swift and Plain swift presents a more brownish colouration and wider wings, though the main differentiation is its white throat and chin.

Apus pallidus brehmorum Biometrics

Wingspan: 42 - 46 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Total length: 16 - 17 cm (Beaman & Madge, 2011)
Weight: 50 g (Hume, 2002)

Other Bird Facts

Seasonality in Madeira: End of March to October
Breeding: In Madeira archipelago its breeding is confirmed only to Madeira island and it uses rock cavities to build its unlined nest. It has only one brood, between May and June, with 2 or 3 eggs.
Diet: Feeds in the air, catching flying insects and drifting spiders


Madeira local status by Correia-Fagundes et al, 2021: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Romano et al, 2010: Common breeding bird
Madeira local status by Zino et al, 1995: Common breeding bird
Conservation status by the IUCN Red List Categories, 2013: Least Concern ver 3.1

Name of this species in other languages

Madeiran: Andorinha do Mar
Portuguese: Andorinhão-pálido
German: Fahlsegler-brehmorum, Fahlsegler
Dutch: Vale Gierzwaluw
Swedish: Blek tornseglare
Danish: Gråsejler
Finish: Vaaleakiitäjä
Norwegian: Gråseiler
Spanish: Vencejo Pálido
French: Martinet pâle
Italian: Rondone pallido
Polish: Jerzyk blady
Slovak: Dážďovník plavý
Czech: Rorýs šedohnědý
English synonyms: Mouse-coloured Swift, Pale Brown Swift

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