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Common name Alpine swift
Scientific name Apus melba
Type Cliff-nesting birds
Status Summer

Bird of small to medium size (approx 21 cm or 8.5 in). It is the biggest and most colourful swift present in Malaga. 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. Brown olive plumage with a white spot on the throat and a larger white spot on the belly. The Alpine Swift is usually observed in flight and in groups.


Rocky environment

Where it lives

Open spaces, from sea level to high mountain. Indifferent to the type of habitat whenever there are flying insects to hunt and holes in which to nest. It seems to be associated with limestone substrates oriented to the south, whether in the urban environment, or in rocky walls in the mountains and coasts.

How it lives

Summer species present in Malaga during the breeding period, which starts in April. It makes a single annual laying of 2 to 3 eggs. Nest in cracks of rocks and buildings or infrastructures and in colonies. The Alpine Swift feeds on insects that it catches on the fly, usually at a higher altitude than the rest of swifts.

Where it can be seen in Malaga

Frequent in many mountain ranges of Malaga with pits and rocky ravines. Some locations to watch it are the Cueva del Gato or the Tajo de Ronda. In the Great Path it can be observed in stages 9, 11, 12, 20, 22, 24 and 25.

Curious facts

The colonies of alpine swifts are especially noisy, with a different call to those of common and pallid swifts. Only during the night do these birds become quieter. At dusk they meet in a single band and rise at high altitude, reaching more than 6,500 ft altitude. Then they enter a state of lethargy similar to sleep, flying in a circle and still moving their wings. They sleep without stopping flying, until it is dawn and they go down again.

Similar birds
Wintering Summer Resident Migration