To: <>, Alan Gillanders <>, "mike tarburton (SWIFT records)" <>, birding-aus threads <>
Subject: Swifts
From: martin cachard <>
Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 18:44:23 +1100
Hi Dom, Alan, Mike & all other swift enthusiasts...

I think that it is very important when looking through groups of Fork-tailed 
Swifts for House Swifts that a number of things need to be considered...

There a usually a high proportion of Fork-tails visiting our parts undergoing 
some tail &/or some wing moult, giving them a rather similar shape to House 
Swifts. Also to compound the ID difficulty, the white throat patch is rather 
variable amongst Fork-tails as well, with most showing the usual smaller & more 
diffuse white patch, whilst some others do show a brighter white & more 
clear-cut throat patch (so that it resembles the throat of a House Swift).

What I have also looked for to help i.d. House Swifts are the darker underparts 
that lack the paler edges/tips typical of Fork-taileds in fresh plumage, which 
most are (I think?!) when in these parts in summer.

Therefore, I think if you have a short & broad tailed swift with shorter & 
slightly broader wings than a Fork-tail, combined with a bright white & 
clear-cut throat patch (ie. throat patch like a needletail), & then combined 
with darker underbody parts without any scaly appearance....then & only then, 
you are most probably looking at a House Swift.

Incidentally, I am yet to see any Fork-tails (or House) this season near Cairns 
- having moved away from the northern side of Cairns to the southern side has 
meant that I'm living in a very flat area inland on the coastal plain, well 
away from the foothills & coastline that these birds usually favour.

It would be great if you guys get to look more closely at these House 
Swift-like birds when you next see some, as I would not be surprised that one 
or two actually were indeed House Swifts!! I have myself at least 5 records of 
them to the north of Cairns in the last 16 years.

If Mike or anyone else has other ID features for House Swifts against 
Fork-tails then I think we all would benefit from them... I think that smaller 
size for House Swifts is mostly due to shorter tail length, so that 
tail-moulting Foork-tails appear similar in size (happy to be correcetd on this 
feature, Mike...)

Cheers for now,

Martin Cachard,

> Date: Fri, 11 Jan 2013 05:28:16 +0000
> From: 
> To: ; ; 
> Subject: Re: [Birding-Aus] Swifts
> Hi
> Interesting I have had an influx of fork-tails over Yorkeys Knob the last 
> couple of days. On Thursday there were about 35+ over my house from early 
> afternoon onwards. Today this has increased to over 150 birds, the fock has 
> been highly mobile and difficult to keep in view. Within the flock there were 
> several clear Fork-tails in wing moult and at least two others that I took to 
> be in tail moult as when they spread their tails they were very square. The 
> variability in white on the throat was quite marked in birds that came low 
> enough to be studied properly, some having very bright clearly defined white 
> chin patches and others far less distinctly marked.
> Dom
> ________________________________
>  From: Alan Gillanders <>
> To: Mike Tarburton <>; birding-aus 
> <> 
> Sent: Friday, 11 January 2013, 8:14
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Swifts
> Mike,
> At least 17 Fork-tailed Swifts hawking over Petersen Creek Yungaburra 
> yesterday evening. Maximum number something like 25. 
> There were also two other swifts there which I did not get good enough looks 
> at to identify. They may have been Fork-tails in tail moult but one had a 
> clear white throat. They may have been House Swifts. My impression was a 
> smaller swift with a flight more like that of the Swiftlets. They were not 
> Swiftlets.
> Regards,
> Alan
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