Apus apus | Common Swift | Gabhlán gaoithe



Conservation status

This species is Red-listed according to Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 and is of high conservation value as a result.

According to the last IUCN Red List assessment in 2016, the Swift is a species of ‘Least Concern’ on a global scale with a stable population trend. 

Species Biology


The Swift is the largest of the Hirudinae-like species found in Ireland. 

It has rather long, scythe-shaped wings relative to its body dimensions and a forked tail.

This aerial acrobat is almost always seen in flight and rarely lands in view. It has disproportionally small feet relative to its body which are almost impossible to spot when in flight.

The Swift stands at 16-17 cm in height with an impressive wingspan (relative to its body size) of 42-48 cm. They are a medium sized aerial bird weighing 36-50 grams. 


The swift has a strict diet of flying invertebrates that can be caught on the wing such as midges, airborne spiders and flies.


The Swift spends a massive proportion of its life on the wing and can be seen flying around most of Irelands countryside and towns.

In Ireland, it has no issue breeding in close proximity to humans if a suitable space in a building is found. It will breed in derelict buildings and will use artificial next boxes if conditions are favourable.


The female swift lays a clutch of 2-3 eggs at 2-3 day intervals and incubate for a period of 19-25 days per egg. Each egg weighs approximately 3.5 grams.

The young will fledge after 37-56 days.

An average wild Swift typically lives for nine years, reaching sexual maturity at four years. 


World distribution(GBIF)

Irish distribution

The Swift is a summer visitor to Ireland, arriving from Southern Africa.

The Swift is widespread throughout the country but the population is noted as declining. A similar trend can be seen in Britain, resulting in its ‘Amber’ listing there.

Temporal change

Records submitted to Data Centre in 2023

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