Hemiprocne – Treeswifts

These not-so-social birds have unique characteristics that distinguish them from true swifts

One of the most distinguishing features of treeswifts is the crest on their head, which can be raised or lowered depending on their state of alertness or excitement. Their appearance is further distinguished by their deeply forked tails and the long wingtips that often cross over when at rest. These physical adaptations are not merely for show; they play a vital role in their survival and foraging strategies.

Treeswifts are adept fliers, capable of making sharp turns and sudden sprints in mid-air to capture their insect prey. Their broad gape and short bill create a wide opening, making it easier to snatch up flying insects. The bristles around their mouth are believed to help guide prey into their mouths during these high-speed encounters.

Large, sensitive eyes are another characteristic adaptation of treeswifts, crucial for spotting prey in the dim light of dawn or dusk. This heightened visual acuity allows them to effectively hunt in lower light conditions than many other diurnal birds.

While often observed as reserved and somewhat solitary, treeswifts do engage in social behaviors, particularly during breeding and foraging. They are known to form loose groups when feeding, a behavior that contrasts with the more solitary nature of true swifts.

Treeswifts typically breed in pairs and are known for their unique nest construction. They create small, saucer-shaped nests attached to branches, often using their saliva as glue to secure the nest materials. This nest structure provides a secure and stable platform for their eggs and chicks in the high canopy of forests.

Unlike true swifts, which spend most of their life on the wing, treeswifts often perch in open vantage points and make forays into the air to catch insects. They may also glean insects from leaves and branches, displaying a more varied approach to feeding than their swift relatives.