Cape Verde swift

The Cape Verde swift or Alexander's swift (Apus alexandri) is a small bird of the swift family found only in the Cape Verde Islands. It has been recorded from all the islands except Santa Luzia although it probably breeds only on Santiago, Fogo, Brava, Santo Antão and São Nicolau. It is generally common with a stable population and is not considered to be threatened. The name Alexander's swift commemorates Boyd Alexander, an English ornithologist who led two expeditions to the islands in 1897.[2]

Cape Verde swift
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Clade: Strisores
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Apodidae
Genus: Apus
A. alexandri
Binomial name
Apus alexandri
Hartert, 1901


It is 13 cm long with a wingspan of 34 to 35 cm. The plumage is dark grey-brown with a large pale throat-patch. Compared to other swifts recorded from the islands it is smaller with shorter wings and a shallower fork to the tail. Its flight action is weaker and more fluttering. It has a high-pitched, screaming call with a buzzing quality.[3]


The Cape Verde swift feeds on insects which it catches while flying. It can be seen flying over all habitats and hunts in flight for insects, foraging in flocks over gullies and along cliffs and shorelines. The nest is built in a crevice in a cliff, in a cave or in the roof of a building. It is saucer-shaped and made of grass and feathers. The eggs are white and a clutch size of two has been reported. The bird is thought to be resident rather than migratory.[3]


The Cape Verde swift has a restricted range but is a common bird on the archipelago, with large numbers on Fogo and Brava. There is no evidence that its numbers are declining and no specific threats have been recognised, so the International Union for Conservation of Nature has assessed its conservation status as being of "least concern".[1]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2016). "Apus alexandri". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22686795A93127106. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22686795A93127106.en. Retrieved 11 November 2021.
  2. ^ Beolens, Bo; Watkins, Michael (2003). Whose Birds? Men and Women Commemorated in the Common Names of Birds. London: Christopher Helm. p. 22.
  3. ^ a b Phil Chantler (2010). Swifts: A Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World. Bloomsbury Publishing. pp. 220–221. ISBN 978-1-4081-3540-2.
  • Clarke, Tony; Orgill, Chris & Dudley, Tony (2006) Field Guide to the Birds of the Atlantic Islands, Christopher Helm, London
  • Snow, D. W. & Perrins, C. M. (1998) Birds of the Western Palearctic: Concise Edition, Vol. 1, Oxford University Press.

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