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Birding Málaga


Common name Pallid swift
Scientific name Apus pallidus
Type Urban birds
Status Summer

Small bird (approx 16 cm or 6.5 in) with an incredible ability to fly. Bow-shaped silhouette, with short and forked tail and long, thin and pointed wings. Short, flat bill that leads to a very wide mouth. Very short legs with feathered tarsi and barely functional. Small feet, with four very small toes with strong claws, directed forward. This bird cannot perch on the ground. Very similar to the Common Swift, from which it is difficult to be distinguished unless observed from a short distance. Plumage of brown colour somewhat lighter than that of the Common Swift. Clear spot on the throat larger than that of the twin species. Lighter and scaly underparts. The Pallid Swift is usually observed in flight and in mixed groups with the Common Swift.


Urban and rocky environments

Where it lives

Open spaces. Indifferent to the type of habitat whenever there are flying insects to hunt and holes in which to nest. Preference for the urban environment and coastal cliffs.

How it lives

The Pallid Swift is present in Malaga only during the breeding period. This species spends the winter south of the Sahara. It uses holes in roofs and human constructions to install the breeding site, but also nests in natural rock fields and marine cliffs. In the cities it usually installs its colonies in zones peripheral to those of the Common Swift. An annual laying in May of 2 to 3 eggs. It feeds on small flying insects exclusively, sweeping the air flying with its mouth open and catching insects on the fly.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Frequent and usual species in the province. It can be watched throughout the Great Path.

Curious facts

The Latin name of the swifts literally means "without legs", referring to their flying way of life and to the fact that although they have legs, they are very undeveloped. The Spanish name ("vencejo") derives from "oncejo", from the Latin "uncus", which means "claw" or "hook" and makes clear reference to the nails or small claws of this bird, which allow them to grab perfectly to vertical surfaces. In Malaga the swifts are popularly known as "aviones", Spanish name for the house martins, although they have nothing to do with the real house martins (Delichon urbicum), which in turn people often confuse with swallows.

Wintering Summer Resident Migration