The brown-backed needletail (Hirundapus giganteus), or brown needletail, is a large swift.
These birds have very short legs which they use only mainly for clinging to vertical surfaces. They never settle voluntarily on the ground and spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.
They build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs, laying 3-5 eggs. The flight is impressively fast, even compared to other swifts.
The brown-backed needletail is a very large swift, and at 23 cm is bigger than the Alpine swift and the white-throated needletail. It has a similar build to the latter species, with a heavy barrel-like body. They are dark brown except for a white undertail, which extends on to the flanks.
- Birds of India by Grimmett, Inskipp and Inskipp, ISBN 0-691-04910-6