Cave swiftlet

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Cave swiftlet
Cave Swiftlet (Collocalia linchi) 1.jpg
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Apodidae
Genus: Collocalia
C. linchi
Binomial name
Collocalia linchi

The cave swiftlet (Collocalia linchi) is a species of swift in the family Apodidae. It is found on the Indonesia islands of Sumatra, Java and Bali. It is a woodland species and nests in caves. The Bornean swiftlet was considered a subspecies, but is now usually considered distinct.


The cave swiftlet was described by the naturalists Thomas Horsfield and Frederic Moore in 1854 under the present binomial name Collocalia linchi.[2][3] The specific epithet linchi is the Javanese word for a swiftlet.[4]

There are four recognised subspecies:[5] HBW Alive

  • C. l. dedii Somadikarta, 1986 - Bali and Lombok
  • C. l. linchi Horsfield & Moore, F, 1854 - Bawean and Java
  • C. l. ripleyi Somadikarta, S, 1986 - Barisan Mountains, Sumatra
  • C. l. dodgei Richmond, 1905 - Mt Kinabalu (Sabah), in N Borneo.


This bird is shiny blackish-brown above with a greenish gloss, including its rump; sometimes looks black and hooded. Chest black; belly to flanks pale grey with fine black speckles at margins. Wing tips are rounded; underwing is black. Tail black, rounded with shallow notch but lacking the white specks found in the very similar glossy swiftlet (Collocalia esculenta). A distinguishing feature between the two species is that the glossy swiftlet has a tuft of feathers on its hind toe but the cave swiftlet has a naked toe. It is 9 to 11.5 cm (3.5 to 4.5 in) in length. The call is a high-pitched "cheer-cheer".[6]

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The cave swiftlet is native to Malaysia and Indonesia.[7] It is found in the Sundaic region, in Java, Madura Island, Bawean, Kangean Island, Nusa Penida, Bali and Lombok, parts of Sumatra, and the western slopes of Mount Kinabalu on Sabah, Borneo. Evidence of it occurring in Malaysia rests on a single specimen in the British Museum labelled "Molacca". Its natural habitat is lowland and upland forest and open woodland.[6]


The cave swiftlet is highly gregarious and flies with all the other species of swift that are sympatric with it. It often circles and flies through the branches of trees emerging through the canopy such as fruiting figs. It breeds in the lighter parts of caves, building a nest of stringy vegetation and cementing the materials to the rock with saliva. Two white, somewhat elongated eggs are laid.[6]


The cave swiftlet has a very wide range and is common in Java and the nearby islands. It has no particular threats and the IUCN has listed it as being of "Least Concern". Although the overall population may be declining slightly, this is not believed to be at such a rate as would justify listing it in a more threatened category.[7]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Collocalia linchi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2016: e.T22686498A93114737. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T22686498A93114737.en.
  2. ^ Horsfield, Thomas; Moore, Frederic (1854). A Catalogue of the Birds in the Museum of the Honorable East India Company. Volume 1. London: W.H. Allen. pp. 100–106.
  3. ^ Peters, James Lee, ed. (1940). Check-list of Birds of the World. Volume 4. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press. pp. 229–230.
  4. ^ Jobling, James A. (2010). The Helm Dictionary of Scientific Bird Names. London: Christopher Helm. p. 227. ISBN 978-1-4081-2501-4.
  5. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Owlet-nightjars, treeswifts & swifts". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 2 August 2017.
  6. ^ a b c Chantler, Phil (2010). Swifts: A Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World. A & C Black. ISBN 9781408135402.
  7. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Collocalia linchi". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2012. Retrieved 26 November 2013.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)

Further reading[edit]

  • Somadikarta, S. (1986). "Collocalia linchi Horsfield and Moore — a revision". Bulletin of the British Ornithologists' Club. 106 (1): 32–40.
  • Rheindt, Frank E.; Christidis, Les; Norman, Janette A.; Eaton, James A.; Sadanandan, Keren R.; Schodde, Richard (2017). "Speciation in Indo-Pacific swiftlets (Aves: Apodidae): integrating molecular and phenotypic data for a new provisional taxonomy of the Collocalia esculenta complex". Zootaxa. 4250 (5): 401–433. doi:10.11646/zootaxa.4250.5.1. PMID 28609999.