Hirundapus caudacutus caudacutus
|Common Name||Needle-tailed Swift and Spine-tailed Swift|
|Range||central Asia and southern Siberia. This species is migratory, wintering south in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. It is a rare vagrant in Western Europe, but has been recorded as far west as Norway, Sweden and Great Britain.|
The White-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus), also known as needle-tailed swift or spine-tailed swift, is a species of large swift in the Apodidae family. It is commonly reputed to reach speeds of up to 170 km/h (105 mph), though this has not been verified.
These birds have very short legs which they use only for clinging to vertical surfaces. They build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs or hollow trees. They never settle voluntarily on the ground and spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.
These swifts breed in rocky hills in central Asia and southern Siberia. This species is migratory, wintering south in the Indian Subcontinent, Southeast Asia and Australia. It is a rare vagrant in Western Europe, but has been recorded as far west as Norway, Sweden and Great Britain.
The white-throated needletail is a mid-sized bird, similar in size to an Alpine swift, but a different build, with a heavier barrel-like body. They are black except for a white throat and white under-tail, which extends on to the flanks, and a somewhat paler brown back.
The white-throated needletail was first described by the English ornithologist John Latham in 1801 under the binomial name Hirundo caudacuta. The current genus Hirundapus is constructed from the names of the swallow genus Hirundo and the swift genus Apus. The specific caudacutus is from Latin cauda, "tail", and acutus, "pointed".