I've had a look at the swiftlet pictures, and it seems to come down three
possible species, the most likely of which I think is Himalayan Swiftlet.
The pale grey rump suggests Himalayan, Edible-nest and Black-nest.
According to Chantler and Driessens 'Swifts' - probably the best book on
these difficult birds - Himalayan is a gre-brown swiftlet, which fits your
birds, with an obviously forked tail. Himalayan averages a deeper fork that
Black-nest, and this looks more like the former on the plates. On
Himalayan it is said to be around 20% of tail length. I estimate these ones
to be about that, which is considerably more than Black-nest Swiftlet,
which has about 10-15%. It seems that Himalayan generally has a paler rump
than the other two, at least on the races closer to Australia, and the rump
on the pictures showing the rump is really quite pale. The palest rumped
Black-nest is on Borneo, so less likely to turn up in Broome than the Javan
race, which has 'an indistinct greyish rump band', unlike your birds.
Edible-nest Swiftlet has a fork only a little less than Himalayan. However,
the Javan race has a rump only slightly paler than the rest of the
upperparts. Also Edible-nest is smaller, shorter winged and less bulky, but
that's obviously hard to judge on these photos. The wings on these birds,
though, don't look short. What is not mentioned in the text is what appears
on these photos to be a pale collar. Edible-nest occurs much closer to
Australia than Himalayan usually does, but the cyclones could have blown
the birds a long way. Himalayan is a migrant, probably reaching Sumatra, so
not that far from Broome, so they could have been blown down. In 1998 I saw
a White-rumped Swiftlet at Avalon in Sydney, well south of its usual range,
after a cyclone of the Queensland coast.
Tom has posted a couple of the pics I took of the upto 6 Swiftlets seen in
Broome on the 9/3/07 during cyclone George.
Species yet to be identified.
Any ideas welcome.
Cheers Adrian Boyle
School of Education & Professional Studies (Brisbane, Logan)
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