American Black Swift
|American Black Swift|
|Adult Black Swift on the nest in Shoshone County, Idaho|
The American Black Swift or more simply Black Swift (Cypseloides niger) is a name given to birds that are found from northern British Columbia in Canada through the United States and Mexico to Costa Rica and Brazil. They are also found on islands in the West Indies.
In flight, these birds resemble a flying cigar with long slender curved wings. The plumage is mostly a sooty dark gray. There is some contrast between the upper and lower wing. The shoulders are much darker in color than the remaining portion of the wing. They also have short slightly forked tails.
Their breeding habitat is frequently associated with water. The birds most often nest on high cliff faces, either above the ocean surf or behind or next to waterfalls. The nest is made of twigs and moss glued together with mud. They will also use ferns and seaweed if available. The clutch size is 1 egg, with incubation lasting 23–27 days. Newly hatched young are probably fed multiple times a day, but older nestlings usually only once a day by each parent, most often at dusk. Adults spend the night roosting at or near the nest site.
These birds do migrate out of North America after the breeding season. It remains unclear where most of the birds spend the winter, although some of the birds have been tracked as far south as Brazil, migrating there from Colorado. Some of the birds in the West Indies appear to be permanent residents. They are late spring migrants into the breeding range, with Colorado breeders not arriving until the very end of May into June. Large flocks of migrants are occasionally seen spring and fall, but only very rarely far south of the U.S. breeding range.
Status and distribution
Fewer than 150 Black Swift breeding sites are known in the United States, with 108 (as of July 2012) known from Colorado. These include:
- In Alberta: Johnston Canyon.
- In California: the Santa Cruz coast (where it is declining, Berry Creek Falls, Yosemite, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks, San Bernardino Mountains, and the San Jacinto Mountains.
- In Colorado: Box Canyon near Ouray, Hanging Lake, Hawk Creek Falls, Falls Creek Falls and Niagara and Cataract Gulches.
- In New Mexico: Jemez Falls.
- In Utah: Stewart Falls.
- In Washington: Semiahoo Bay
- BirdLife International (2012). "Cypseloides niger". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2012.1. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 16 July 2012.
- Nancy Lofholm, Birders take black swift mystery under their wing, The Denver Post, 03/03/2012
- Wiggins, David A. (2004). Black Swift (Cypseloides niger). A Technical Conservation Assesment. (online). USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Region.
- The Coolest Bird
- Ouray, Colorado: Birding
- Audubon IBAs: Hanging Lake