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Vaux's Swift

Chaetura vauxi ORDER: APODIFORMES FAMILY: APODIDAE

IUCN Conservation Status: Least Concern

A bird of the Pacific Northwest, Vaux's Swift spends almost all of daylight hours in the air foraging for insects. It is very similar to the Chimney Swift, a common species of the eastern United States, in appearance and habits.

At a GlanceHelp

Measurements
Both Sexes
Length
4.3 in
11 cm
Wingspan
11 in
28 cm
Weight
0.5–0.8 oz
15–22 g
Other Names
  • Martinet de Vaux (French)
  • Vencejo de Vaux (Spanish)

Cool Facts

  • Vaux's Swift is the smallest swift in North America.
  • Vaux's Swifts roost communally, by the hundreds or sometimes the thousands, presumably to conserve heat. They let their body temperature drop and become torpid on cold nights, reviving in the warmth of day.
  • Vaux's Swifts descend into their roost tree essentially at once, spiraling down in a very dramatic rush at nightfall.
  • Vaux's Swift is named for William S. Vaux, a member of the Academy of Natural Sciences and a friend of John K. Townsend, who first described the species. The name is pronounced "vawks," not "voh."

Habitat


Forest

Nests in coniferous or mixed forest. Forages in forest openings, especially above streams.

Food


Insects

Flying insects and some spiders.

Nesting

Nesting Facts
Clutch Size
3–7 eggs
Egg Description
White.
Condition at Hatching
Naked and helpless.
Nest Description

Half-cup made of small twigs glued to vertical surface with the bird's sticky saliva. Nests communally, usually in hollow trees, less commonly in chimneys.

Nest Placement

Tree

Behavior


Aerial Forager

Forages in the air, taking insects in its bill.

Conservation

status via IUCN

Least Concern

Declining throughout range. Logging of large-diameter trees in old-growth forest eliminates nest sites.

Credits

  • Bull, E. L and C. T. Collins. 1993. Vaux's Swift (Chaetura vauxi). In The Birds of North America, No. 77 (A. Poole and F. Gill, Eds.). Philadelphia: The Academy of Natural Sciences; Washington, D.C.: The American Ornithologists' Union.

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