This bird has a very particular nest, which consists of a long cone which it builds with vegetable wool and feathers. Its name Panyptila which derives from the Greek roots panu = excessively and ptilon = wing. Its epithet cayennensis refers to Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana.


It measures about 13 cm and weighs about 18 g. It has a long and deeply forked tail. It is mainly black in color with a white throat, chest, and nuchal collar. It also has white patches on the sides of the lower back and flanks, white spots on each side of the forehead and the base of the outer rectrices of the same color.

Similar species

The color pattern of the White-tipped Swift (Aeronautes montivagus) is similar but is distinguished by the fact that its tail is shorter and slightly lowered. The Neotropical Palm Swift (Tachornis squamata) has a more brown and dull plumage.

Regional Differences

Two subspecies P. c. veraecrucis and P. c. cayennensis. Only the nominal subspecies is found in Colombia.


This species is found from eastern Mexico and through Central America to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, northeastern Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana. In Colombia it is found below 1,400 m above sea level and has been recorded on the western slope of the Occidental mountain range, the northern end of the three mountain ranges and the middle valley of the Magdalena River. It has also been recorded east of the Andes in Leticia, Mitú and Puerto Inírida.


It has been observed flying over jungle lands, semi-open areas, crops, rivers, edges of primary forests and edges of secondary forest.


It feeds on insects and other arthropods, but the main groups that make up its diet are unknown in detail.


In Colombia, chicks have been registered in April and occupied nests in December in the city of Manizales. It builds its nest under eaves, against walls, escarpments, tree trunks or hanging from tree branches. Its nest is a long cone, which it builds with vegetable wool and feathers cemented with saliva, has an entrance at the bottom and in it it lays 2 or 3 eggs. Both members of the couple rest in it throughout the year.


It remains alone, in pairs and sometimes in mixed groups with other swifts of the genera Chaetura, Streptoprogne and Cypseloides. It is generally less gregarious than other swifts. In general it flies high but when it is in groups together with other species it uses the lowest strata. Its flight is fast and maneuverable but slightly erratic.


The separation of their populations into races is doubtful and could be unjustified.

Conservation status

It is considered a kind of minor concern.

Vocalization/ Song



Avibase. 2015. Panyptila cayennensis. Downloaded fromhttp: //avibase.bsc-eoc.org/species.jsp? Lang = EN & avibaseid = 9E39F33E98521BB0 on ​​08/14/2015.

Chantler, P. Panyptila cayennensis Pp 448-449 In: Del-Hoyo, J., Elliot, A. and Sardatal, J. 2002. Handbook of the Birds of the Wold. Vol 5. Barn-Owls to Hummingbirds. Lynx editions. Barcelona. 759p.

Hilty, S. L. and W. L. Brown. 2001. Guide to the Birds of Colombia. Princetn. Univ. Press, Princeton, NJ. 1030p.

The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2015.2. <www.iucnredlist.org>. Downloaded on 17 July 2015.

Jobling, C. 2010. The Helm dictionary of scientific birds names. Christopher Helm and A & C Black Publishers Ltda. London. 433p.

Remsen, J. V., Jr., C. D. Cadena, A. Jaramillo, M. Nores, J. F. Pacheco, J. Pérez-Emán, M. B. Robbins, F. G. Stiles, D. F. Stotz, and K. J. Zimmer. Version 7 December 2012. A classification of the bird species of South America. American Ornithologists’ Union