Tuesday, March 7

Asian palm-swift

   ›      ›   Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis

The Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) is a small swift belonging to the family Apodidae.

These swift species are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, China and several Southeast Asian countries. The savanna Asian palm-swift species spend most of their lives in the air, feeding and drinking on the wing. There are four recognized subspecies of these palm-swifts.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Asian Palm-swift Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Asian palm-swift - Overview

  • Scientific name: Cypsiurus balasiensis
  • Species author: (J.E. Gray, 1829)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cypselus Balasiensis J. E. Gray, 1829
  • Family: Apodidae › Apodiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Asian palm-swift, Chinese: 棕雨燕, French: Martinet batassia, German: Bengalensegler, Spanish: Vencejo palmero asiático, Russian: Индийский пальмовый стриж, Japanese: アジアヤシアマツバメ, Tamil: Panai Uzhavaran
  • Other names: Palm swift
  • Distribution: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines, Brunei
  • Diet and feeding habits: grasshoppers, locust, moths, crickets, mantises, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, flying termites, flies, flying ants
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) is closely related to African palm swift (Cypsiurus parvus).
The four recognized subspecies of Asian palm-swift are: Cypsiurus balasiensis balasiensis (J. E. Gray, 1829), Cypsiurus balasiensis infumatus (P. L. Sclater, 1866), Cypsiurus balasiensis bartelsorum Brooke, 1972 and Cypsiurus balasiensis pallidior (McGregor, 1905).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) is a small swift, measuring about 13 cm in length.

The overall plumage of these Asian palm-swift species is pale brown. It has long, thin, swept-back wings. The body is slender and the tail is long. The tail is deeply forked, which is not visible while the bird is flying as the split is held closed.

Both the sexes look similar and the juveniles have shorter tail. The irises are black. The legs are very short, used only for clinging to vertical surfaces. Their call is a loud shrill twittering sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Birds of India - Image of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Birds of India - Photo of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Indian birds - Picture of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Indian birds - Image of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis
Birds of India - Photo of Asian palm-swift - Cypsiurus balasiensis

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These Asian palm-swift species are distributed in India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, China, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Philippines and Brunei. The nominate subspecies C. b. balasiensis is distributed in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

The Asian palm-swift subspecies C. b. infumatus is distributed in north-east India, China and Southeast Asian countries. The subspecies C. b. bartelsorum is distributed in Java and Bali islands in Indonesia. The subspecies C. b. pallidior is distributed in Philippines.

Ecosystem and habitat

These Asian palm-swift species have low forest dependency. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 1500 meters. These species inhabit artificial ecosystems like urban areas, agricultural fields, palm plantations (Borassus, Areca and Corypha species), and open parks with palm trees.

The natural ecosystem of these palm-swift species includes subtropical and tropical mangrove vegetation, open woodlands, scrub jungle, deciduous forests, subtropical and tropical dry shrubland, subtropical and tropical moist lowland forests, open country and grassy plains.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these swift species is mostly flying insects. Grasshoppers, moths, crickets, mantises, cicadas, beetles, dragonflies, flying termites, airborne spiders, flies, locust and flying ants are their primary food.

The palm-swifts are excellent aerial foragers, hawking insects on the wing. They are exceptionally agile in flight and drink by skimming the water surface while flying.

Reproduction and breeding habits

These swift species are known to breed year-round with local variations of peak period. The peak breeding season of these species is from April to June in India and Nepal.

The fronds of palm trees like palmyra (Borassus sp.), areca (Areca sp.), oil palm (Elaeis sp.), fan palms (Livistona sp.) and talipot (Corypha sp.) are the roosting and nesting sites of these Asian palm swifts.

A flimsy half-cup shaped nest is made by gluing together down feathers, plant fiber and plant floss with the bird's saliva. The palm-swift nest is glued to the undersurface of a old palm frond. Two or three eggs are laid and are glued to the nest.

Migration and movement patterns

The Asian palm-swift is a non-migrant resident bird.

Post breeding, the juvenile swifts may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is considered to be stable. Throughout its range it is reported to be common to locally abundant. The generation length is 7.2 years. Their distribution size is about 17,700,000 sq.km.

The Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion, or under the population size criterion. Loss of habitat due felling of palm trees is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these palm-swift species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the swift species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the Asian palm-swift (Cypsiurus balasiensis).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Cypsiurus balasiensis
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Apodiformes
Family:Apodidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Cypsiurus
Species:C. balasiensis
Binomial name:Cypsiurus balasiensis
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_Palm_Swift_Cypsiurus_balasiensis_in_flight_02.JPG
Image author: Dr. Raju Kasambe | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
2.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_Palm_Swift_Cypsiurus_balasiensis_in_flight_01.JPG
Image author: Dr. Raju Kasambe | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
3.Image source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Asian_Palm_Swift_Cypsiurus_balasiensis_in_flight_03.JPG
Image author: Dr. Raju Kasambe | License: CC BY-SA 4.0
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