Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba


Justification of Red List Category
This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.

Population justification
The European population is estimated at 151,000-327,000 pairs, which equates to 302,000-653,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c. 30% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 1,000,000-2,100,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 1,000,000-2,499,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be stable in the absence of evidence for any declines or substantial threats. The European population trend is also estimated to be stable (BirdLife International 2015).


The species occurs over a wide range of habitats and forages over vast areas. It is found in temperate and Mediterranean zones, typically in mountains but occasionally in lowlands. It breeds from March to June. It typically lays three eggs. It uses ledges or holes in cliff-faces or tall man-made structures with the pairs using the same nest-site in successive years. The nest is saucer-shaped, consisting of downy feathers from many species, and swift primaries, tightly bound with dried plant matter and saliva (Chantler et al. 2014). The species is migratory, with West Palearctic populations probably wintering all across the northern tropics of Africa (Snow and Perrins 1998).


Foraging habitats are lost to human development across its range. In addition, the increasing use of pesticides reduces both the numbers and variety of insects available for it to feed on. (Perrins 2009).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Bern Convention Appendix II. There are no known current conservation measures for this species within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Key foraging areas should be identified and protected from development and the use of pesticides should be reduced.


Text account compilers
Ashpole, J, Butchart, S., Ekstrom, J.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Tachymarptis melba. Downloaded from on 08/02/2023. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2023) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 08/02/2023.