White-throated Needletail (species: Hirundapus caudacutus) in Border Ranges NP (Gaia Guide)
Hirundapus caudacutus
White-throated Needletail

©David Cook: White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)

©Tom Tarrant: White-throated Needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus)

©Tom Tarrant: White-throated Needletail
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Aves
Order Apodiformes
Family Apodidae
Genus Hirundapus
Species Hirundapus caudacutus
Status least concern



Distinguishing features

It is a mid sized bird, similar in size to Alpine Swift, but a quite different build, with a heavier barrel-like body. They are black except for a white throat, white undertail, which extends on to the flanks, and a somewhat paler brown back.

They get their name from the spiny end to the tail, which is not forked as in the Apus typical swifts. (Wikipedia)


  • Up to 20 cm (Length of specimen)


  • Up to 40 cm



©Atlas of Living Australia: Australian distribution

Distribution and habitat preferences

They 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. (Wikipedia)


It is capable of flying speeds up to 170 km/h. (Wikipedia)

Web resources


  • Simpson, K., N. Day and P. Trusler (2004). Field Guide to Birds of Australia: 7th Edition Penguin Group (Australia), Camberwell, Victoria.