Little Swift Apus affinis


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 increasing, 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 has not been quantified, but it is not believed to 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 global population size has not been quantified. In Europe, the breeding population is estimated to number 900-2,500 pairs, which equates to 1,800-5,000 mature individuals (BirdLife International 2015), but Europe forms <5% of the global range.

Trend justification
The population is suspected to be increasing owing to a range expansion caused primarily by its adaptation to nesting in buildings (del Hoyo et al. 1999). The tiny European population is estimated to be decreasing by at least 10% in 37.5 years (three generations) (BirdLife International 2015).


This species occurs over a wide range of habitats and latitudes, though less frequently in truly arid regions, and usually close to human habitation. Breeding season varies across the range but in Mauritania it breeds from February to May and August to October, from October to July in Senegambia and year-round in West African rainforest areas (Chantler and Boesman 2016). It typically nests on man-made structures in the angle between the roof and wall; eviction by House Sparrows (Passer domesticus) has been recorded. Cliff sites and abandoned swallow (Hirundo) nests can be employed and forcible eviction noted. The nest is a sturdy, untidy, yet internally neat and smooth, hemispherical 'bag' of vegetable matter, mainly grass, down and small twigs, with feathers, agglutinated with saliva; built in dense, often overlapping clusters with up to three entrances, sometimes communal. It needs a perch to cling to while building. It feeds on invertebrates, foraging as far as 15–20 km from the nest site on occasions. Western Palearctic and southern African populations are partially or fully migratory, however populations from the tropics are resident (Chantler and Boesman 2016).


Dam construction leading to habitat loss may lead to the decrease of populations in Turkey (Kiziroglu 2008) and large declines (50%) (BirdLife International 2004).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
There are currently no conservation measures known to be in place for this species at least within its European range.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Protection of important sites including legislation to protect them from development. Research into the species's ecology and habitat needs. Assess potential threats and develop appropriate responses.


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

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2022) Species factsheet: Apus affinis. Downloaded from on 11/08/2022. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2022) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from on 11/08/2022.