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the web of life in southern Africa

Tachymarptis aequatorialis (Mottled swift) 

[= Apus aequatorialis]

Bontwindswael [Afrikaans]; Geschubde berggierzwaluw [Dutch]; Martinet marbré [French]; Schuppensegler [German]; Andorinhão-malhado [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Apodiformes > Family: Apodidae

Distribution and habitat

Occurs in patches of West Africa as well as the area from Ethiopia south through Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania and Malawi to southern Africa. Within southern Africa it is locally fairly common in Zimbabwe and adjacent Mozambique, generally preferring areas with plenty of granite outcrops.

Distribution of Mottled swift in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project (© Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common).

Predators and parasites

Movements and migrations

Little known, but probably resident and sedentary.


Mainly eats flying insects, foraging both close to the ground and at higher altitudes. The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • Monogamous, usually nesting in colonies of approximately 25 nests, with each pair fighting vigorously for control of a nest site.
  • The nest is a strongly-built half cup with a rim of feathers, seeds and leaves, glued together with saliva and typically placed beneath an overhang or in the vertical crack of a cave.
  • Egg-laying season is from June-January, peaking from June-September.
  • It lays 1-3 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes.
  • Little is known about the chicks, besides that they probably learn to fly at about 28 days old.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.