I'm no expert on the breeding habits of White-throated Needletails, but I
recently encountered a good, if old, article on that topic:
Neufeldt, I. & F.G.H. Allen. 1960. Some notes of the biology of
Needle-tailed Swift in Siberia. British Birds 53: 433-435.
In short, it said that the beasts breed in south-central Siberia (as far
west as the Vasguyan R.), eastwards through the taiga zone to Sakhalin I.
and the Kuriles. Most breeding records from the former USSR were of scrapes
at the bottom of large hollows in larches and pines; most such hollows were
in storm-broken stumps, 3-7 metres high, in overgrown old clearings (often
in swampy ground, often formed by previous fires). I don't think anything
substantial on their breeding biology has been published in english since
1960, but I have no idea what has been published in Russian or Chinese.
As for perching by White-throated Needletails, they do do it when breeding
and roosting. Mike Tarburton reviewed roosting and perching records in Emu
93: 121-124, and described roosting behaviour of a radio-tracked bird which
returned to the same roosting site on several consecutive nights. I've seen
White-throated Needletails perch once; two came in to roost on the outer
foliage of a big Mountain Ash at Cambarville Vic, after a very hot January
day in 1995. They landed late in the day, perhaps half an hour after sunset;
I was doing a stag-watch at the time and a Leadbeaters Possum had already
emerged. Tarburtons radio-tracked bird also came in half an hour after
sunset; perhaps the tendency for them to land when it is rather dark
explains why they are not often seen coming into roost.
While on the subject of swifts, does anyone out there have any photos of any
of the swift species occurring in Australia that they would be prepared to
lend to the HANZAB team for a couple of months? Jeff Davies (preparing the
plates), David Eades (preparing the Field ID texts) and I (Plumages/Moults)
have all encountered a frustrating lack of photos in researching our work.
Even photos that just show little silhouettes would be useful to us! The
swifts being treated in HANZAB are: White-throated Needletail, Fork-tailed
Swift, House Swift, White-rumped Swiflet, Glossy Swiftlet and Uniform
Swiftlet. David Eades and Jeff Davies can be contacted through RAOU
340 Ninks Rd