Sunday, June 2, 2013

Great Swallow-tailed Swift

Great Swallow-tailed Swift
Although Chantler & Driessens in their Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World (1995) describe it as "one of the rarer species", Great Swallow-tailed Swift is regularly reported from Honduras. Monroe (1968) considered it a common resident in the interior mountains of Honduras, and around Cerro de Hula, half an hour south of Tegucigalpa, we see this species occasionally. Last fall, it was regular (daily) for a couple weeks at the very top of Cerro de Hula, with sometimes up to 8 individuals together. Another spot where we have been seeing this species every now and then is from a dirt road behind the community of El Tizatillo, about 15 minutes south of Tegucigalpa.

While most sightings of Great Swallow-tailed Swift are of birds flying high and fast, we had a pair flying rather low and slow this morning at El Tizatillo. Despite the poor lighting, I was able to get a few pictures of this cooperative pair. The apparent damage in this individual's right wing did not seem to hamper it in flight.

At some point, we saw one of them was carrying something in its bill, but we couldn't quite see what. Could it be nesting material? [Edit: I now think this is simply a throat bulging with food.]

Great Swallow-tailed Swift is found from southwestern Mexico through Guatemala, northern El Salvador and the central highlands of Honduras, to northwestern Nicaragua.

Cited literature:
Chantler, P. & G. Driessens. 1995. Swifts – A Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World. Pica Press, East Sussex.
Monroe, B. L. 1968. A Distributional Survey of the Birds of Honduras. Ornithological Monographs No. 7, American Ornithologists' Union.