Black Swift: Large, bulky swift, black overall. Wrist (wing angle) is very close to body. Long, slightly forked tail, often fanned out. It is the largest North American swift. Spends most of its time thousands of feet in the air. It flies on stiff, shallow wingbeats. Soars on thermals and updrafts.
Range and Habitat
Black Swift: Breeds from southern Alaska south to southern California, Montana, and Colorado. Spends winters in the tropics. Preferred habitats include mountains and coastal cliffs.
The Black Swift may be found in North America, the islands of the West Indies, Mexico and Africa. It is largely considered a seabird, spending most of its time on the sides of cliffs and waterfalls near the ocean for breeding and nesting purposes. When in flight, the Black Swift looks much like a cigar. They typically feed on flying insects, and travel in large groups. It is not clear where the groups migrate to during the winter months. The Black Swift is classified as Least Concern because very few threats against the species exist, and numbers are estimated in the millions.
Breeding Bird Survey trend analysis shows a 6.3% per year decline from 1966-2001. Of major concern is the fact that some of the greatest declines are in its British Columbia breeding range where it has traditionally occurred in highest abundance.
The Black Swift is the largest swift in the U.S. and Canada. Often called the cloud swift, these birds feed on aerial insects and hunt in the rising air masses that sweep large numbers of insects into the sky.
They are thought to winter in South America but the location of its wintering grounds remain a mystery. In general they never occur in very high abundance except occasionally, flocks of thousands have been seen in its British Columbia range.
A group of swifts are collectively known as a "box", "flock", "screaming frenzy", and "swoop" of swifts.