White-throated Needletail: Large swift, gray-brown overall with white throat and undertail. Wings are glossed with green. Tail is short and square, with protruding feather shafts giving a spiked appearance. Very swift flight with several rapid wing beats followed by swooping glides.
Range and Habitat
White-throated Needletail: Native of Eurasia, sometimes visits the outer Aleutians in the springtime. Preferred habitats include skies over cities, timbered ridges, and hilltops.
The White-throated Needletail may also be called the Needle-tailed Swift or Spin-tailed Swift. This bird is quite large, and is the fastest bird during level flight, reaching speeds up to 105 mph. Preferred breeding grounds are found in the rocky hillsides of central Asia and southern Siberia. During the winter months, this bird will fly south to Australia and rarely Western Europe, Norway, Sweden and Great Britain. This species has short legs used to cling to vertical surfaces, and build their nests in rocky crevices on cliffs or in hollow trees. Diets consist largely of insects caught while flying. The conservation rating for the White-throated Needletail is Least Concern.
The White-throated Needletail was first described in 1802 by John Latham, an English physician, naturalist and author.
It was formerly known as the Spine-tailed Swift. It is also sometimes known as the Storm-bird or Stormbird.
This large swift is often mistaken in flight for a small predatory bird, but its long curved wings and white markings should identify it.
A group of swifts are collectively known as a "box", "flock", "screaming frenzy", and "swoop" of swifts.