House Swift – nesting colony

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“I observed ~ 100 House Swift (Apus nipalensis subfurcatus) nesting today. Their nests were located under an overhead bridge/road in the city that was largely inaccessible to humans. There were large numbers of nests, scattered over a wide area, but some were taken over by other birds.

“The House Swifts used to nest in buildings in the city but in recent years shop owners have been destroying the nests to discourage the birds. They nest in colonies and Wells (1999) describes it aptly as ‘neighbouring nests overlap to form continual, irregular ‘village’ clusters …’.

“Above shows one such ‘village’ cluster which houses at least 5 different birds. Even a small nest structure as shown in below housed three different pairs.

“Lighting was poor under the bridge but I could clearly see many juveniles waiting at the entrance holes to be fed; the white of their chins and throats showing strongly (below, a juvenile). Feeding of juveniles was active in the early morning (8-8.30am) with adults vocally active around nests with thrills and screams. I could not see prey brought to juvenile as often the adult would put its head into the nesting hole to feed the juvenile. Adults are said to catch insects, far from the nest site, and keep them as a dense saliva ball in the mouth before bring them to juveniles.

“Below shows an adult resting. Note the marked streaking of the rump and chin which is said to be prominent in A. n. subfurcatus (HBW 2019).

Nomenclature issues:
1. Wells 1999 uses House Swift Apus nipalensis subfurcatus.
2. OBI places it under that Little Swift Apus affinis and for A. a. nipalensis mentions House Swift.
3. HBW 2019 puts it under House Swift (Apus nipalensis) and for the Malay Peninsula calls it A. n. subfurcatus.
4. eBird 2018 offers it under both options of House Swift and Little/House Swift.
5. Clements Checklist of the Birds of the World 2018 House Swift and for the Malay Peninsula calls it A. n. subfurcatus.
6. The Howard & Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World 4th Edition places it under House Swift.
7. International Ornithologists’ Union (IOC) World Bird List 2018, version 8.2 puts it under House Swift and for the Malay Peninsula calls it A. n. subfurcatus.

Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
12th May 2019

Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Urban environment

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