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Andorinhão da serra. Apus-unicolor. Plain swift

Apus unicolor


A bird with sickle-shaped wings, resembling a large swallow, and almost always observed in flight. Although it is easily distinguishable from swallows and martins, the Plain Swift can easily be confused with its congener, the Common Swift. Although the distinction is quite difficult, the noticeably paler aspect, the narrower and very pointed wings and the longer and more deeply forked tail are the main characteristics that allow the identification of this species. Still, the best way to distinguish this swift, rare in mainland Portugal, is by its phenology, since it is the swift that can most easily be observed in Portugal during the winter months. It should be noted that there are some records of Common Swift and Pallid Swift during the winter and that the phenology of the Plain Swift is not yet well known in Portugal, since its presence on the mainland was only recently detected. The subtle differences between juvenile and adult plumages make it difficult to assign ages to individuals in flight. This species has no sexual dimorphism.



There are no subspecies of the Plain Swift, since it is a monotypic species.

Scientific Name Transcription

The term 'Apus' results from the junction of two Greek words A+Pous, meaning 'without+feet'. The term 'unicolor' derives from the junction of two Latin words unus+color, meaning 'one single colour'.

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36 to 39 cm

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22 to 27 g

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2 to 3 EGGS



Summer species, although with some poorly known migratory movements, in the Canary Archipelago and Madeira, with some wintering populations in southwest Morocco. This bird, thought to be endemic to Macaronesia, had its first colonies discovered in mainland Portugal, located in Porto, Lisbon and Cascais. It is possible that more colonies will be discovered now that the species is known to occur in mainland Portugal. In Madeira this species is essentially migratory, whereas in mainland Portugal the available data suggests that the species is present throughout the year, but its migratory movements are not yet well known.



This species has not been assigned an unfavourable conservation status although its distribution is very restricted, which always raises concerns about its conservation. The recent discovery of new populations raises the possibility that the species is expanding its distribution area.

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