Common Swift Apus apus


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 therefore is not thought to 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 19,100,000-32,500,000 pairs, which equates to 38,200,000-65,000,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015). Europe forms c. 40% of the global range, so a very preliminary estimate of the global population size is 95,500,000-162,500,000 mature individuals, although further validation of this estimate is needed. The population is therefore placed in the band 95,000,000-164,999,999 mature individuals.

Trend justification
Between 1980 and 2013 the European population trend was estimated as stable (EBCC 2015).


The species inhabits a wide range of habitats from arid steppe, desert, temperate, Mediterranean and boreal zones. It breeds between March and June. It nests mainly in buildings, but in remote parts of the range it also uses tree hollows and rock crevices. The nest cup is constructed of small pieces of vegetable matter and feathers, agglutinated with saliva. It feeds on insects and spiders. It is a long-distance migrant wintering in Africa mainly from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Tanzania south to Zimbabwe and Mozambique (Chantler and Boesman 2013).


The species is negatively impacted by building renovation, re-roofing or demolition which leads to a loss of nest sites (Mayer 2008).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
The species is listed as 'amber' on both the U.K. and Irish national Red Lists (Lynas et al. 2007, Eaton et al. 2009). No other conservation actions are known for the species in Europe.

Conservation Actions Proposed
The species should be considered when repairing or replacing roofs, ensuring that holes and eaves that it uses for nesting are maintained and work does not take place during the breeding season (Mayer 2008). Nest boxes or nest bricks should be incorporated into new buildings or added to existing ones (RSPB 2012).


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2017) Species factsheet: Apus apus. Downloaded from on 24/10/2017. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2017) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 24/10/2017.