Fun White-throated Needletail Facts For Kids

Moumita Dutta
Nov 19, 2022 By Moumita Dutta
Originally Published on Aug 06, 2021
Edited by Jacob Fitzbright
Fact-checked by Gowri Rao
Amazing white-throated needletail facts for kids and adults
All ages
Read time: 6.5 Min

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) is a type of swift bird that lives in Southern Siberia and Central Asia. They are also called the needle-tailed swift and the spine-tailed swift.

These birds are migratory in nature and can be found wintering in Southeastern Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, and Australia. They are a type of large swift belonging to the genus Hirundapus.

They are mostly aerial birds that spend the majority of their lives flying, but they use trees and rock crevices to build their nests while reproducing. The adults of the species are about 7.8-8.2 in (20-21 cm) long.

The needle-tailed swift has a barrel-shaped body. They have a brown back and a greyish brown plumage with a green gloss. They have a white throat and a white patch that extends from under their tail to their flanks.

Their tails are also very short and squared, with feather shafts that give it a spikey look. The shape of their tails is the reason behind their name.

This bird also has horizontal flying speeds of about 100-105 mph (160-168 kph). They also have powerful wings that help them in flight.

If you want to read more amazing animal facts, please check out these articles on the blue jay and hummingbird. 

White-Throated Needletail Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a white-throated needletail?

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) is a type of migratory swift bird. They are almost always flying and thus are categorized as aerial birds.

What class of animal does a white-throated needletail belong to?

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) belongs to the Aves class of the Animalia kingdom.

How many white-throated needletails are there in the world?

The exact numbers of white-throated needletails in the world are unknown. however, they have a Least Concern conservation rating in the IUCN Red List, and thus there are a lot of them in the world.

Where does a white-throated needletail live?

The white-throated needletails are mostly aerial birds who spend most of their lives flying. But their breeding grounds are in Southern Siberia and Central Asia in the summer. They migrate to Southeastern Asia and Australia during the winter. This bird species is seldom seen to fly into Western Europe in countries like Great Britain, Norway, and Sweden.

What is a white-throated needletail's habitat?

These birds are almost exclusively aerial. It was once believed that they did not land while wintering in Australia and Southeastern Asia. But it had been recently said that they roost in trees while wintering.

These migratory birds breed in Central and Northern Asia and Siberia. There they lay their eggs in large hollow trees and crevices of cliffs.

When they migrate to Australia and Southeastern Asia, they sometimes roost there but they do not breed there. But the white-throated needletail spends most of its time flying. Some other aerial birds include the European nightjar, streak-throated swallow, and the common house martin.

Who do white-throated needletails live with?

The bird species is known for mostly staying in flight. Thus it is not known whether they live in groups or not. But while nesting, they live in pairs.

How long does a white-throated needletail live?

There is not much data available on the lifespan of these birds, but it is estimated that they live for up to 10 years in the wild.

How do they reproduce?

Not much is known about the mating and breeding patterns of these birds. But we know that the Needletailed swifts nest to lay eggs.

Nests are made in rock crevices in cliffs and hollow trees and about three to six eggs are laid in one clutch. Their courtship consists of displays of vertical flights and their mating also takes place in flight. These aerial creatures come down to the land only to nest in trees and rock crevices.

The breeding grounds of this bird are Central and Northern Asia. Even though they migrate southwards to Southeastern Asia and Australia in winter, they do not breed there.

What is their conservation status?

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) has a Least Concern status in the IUCN Red List with a stable population.

White-Throated Needletail Fun Facts

What do white-throated needletails look like?

(Read more about these amazing birds in this article.

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) is a larger swift species. They are about 7.8-8.2 in (20-21 cm) long and weigh about 3.8-4.2 oz (110-120 g). They also have a wingspan of 20.4 in (52 cm) which means they have very powerful wings.

Their size makes them a larger swift species. These swifts are barrel-shaped.

They have a greyish brown plumage complete with a greenish gloss. Their throat is white, as is suggested by their names. Not only their throat, but they also have a white patch that extends from the underside of their tails to their flanks.

They have a pale grey patch in the middle of their backs. They have long and pointed wings that are powerful in flight. Their wings aid their flight.

And since this swift spends most of its life in the air, its wings are one of the most important parts of its anatomy. They have short, squared tails that have feather shafts.

This is why they are called needletails. Unlike other swifts that have forked tails, they have short tails. They were formerly called the spine-tailed swift.

How cute are they?

These swifts are pretty cute. even though not much is known about them as they spend most of their time flying, they have a nice color pattern and can be cute.

How do they communicate?

Not much is known about how these swifts communicate. But it has been observed that they use some vertical flight displays during courtship. They also communicate through calls that are loud chirping.

How big is a white-throated needletail?

The average size of adult white-throated needletails is about 7.8-8.2 in (20-21 cm). They have a wingspan of about 20.4 in (52 cm). They are a large species of swifts.

How fast can a white-throated needletail fly?

Like all other swifts, the white-throated needletail is also an extremely fast flier. They are also one of the fastest flying birds in level-flight. They can reach horizontal flying speeds of up to 100-105 mph (160-168 kph). But usually, they fly at a speed of 81 mph (130 kph).

How much does a white-throated needletail weigh?

The average weight of adult white-throated needletails is about 3.8-4.2 oz (110-120 g).

What are the male and female names of the species?

There are no specific names for the males and females of the species. They are simply called male white-throated needletail and female white-throated needletail.

What would you call a baby white-throated needletail?

There is no specific name for the baby white-throated needletails but like all other baby birds, they can be called nestlings or fledglings.

What do they eat?

The white-throated needletails are mostly aerial swifts, so they prey on flying insects while airborne. Their prey includes insects like beetles, bees, moths, and flies.

Are they poisonous?

No, these birds are not poisonous.

Would they make a good pet?

No. Not only is it illegal to own wild birds as pets in a lot of countries, but also these swifts are migratory and spend most of their life flying. Trying to capture them would mean taking their freedom away from them.

Did you know...

White-throated needletails are known by a variety of names such as the spine-tailed swift, the needle-tailed swift, and the storm bird.

Even though they breed in Central and Northern Asia and winters in Australia and Southeastern Asia, it is also a very rare vagrant in Western Europe.

What type of bird is the white-throated needletail?

The white-throated needletail (Hirundapus caudacutus) is a type of bird that belongs to the swift species. They belong to the Hirundapus genus and Aves Class of the Animalia kingdom.

They are larger in size than normal swifts and also have a much shorter tail. Their powerful wings aid their flight as most of their life is spent in the air.

What is the wingspan of a white-throated needletail?

White-throated needletails have very powerful wings. They have a wingspan of about 20.4 in (52 cm), which makes them look like birds of prey while flying. But these migratory, vagrant birds spend most of their lives flying, so, naturally, their wings have to be extremely powerful.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other birds from our northern bobwhite facts and Toco toucan facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our free printable white throated needletail coloring pages.

White-throated needletail Facts

What Did They Prey On?

Small Flying Insects, Bees, Flies, Moths, Beetles

What Type of Animal were they?


Average Litter Size?

3-6 eggs

How Much Did They Weigh?

3.8-4.2 oz (110-120 g)

What habitat Do they Live In?

mostly in the air

Where Do They Live?

central asia, siberia, australia, southeast asia

How Long Were They?

7.8-8.2 in (20-21 cm)

How Tall Were They?








Scientific Name

Hirundapus caudacutus

What Do They Look Like?

Grayish Brown, White Throat

Skin Type


What Are Their Main Threats?


What is their Conservation Status?

Least Concern
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Written by Moumita Dutta

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

Moumita Dutta picture

Moumita DuttaBachelor of Arts specializing in Journalism and Mass Communication, Postgraduate Diploma in Sports Management

A content writer and editor with a passion for sports, Moumita has honed her skills in producing compelling match reports and stories about sporting heroes. She holds a degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the Indian Institute of Social Welfare and Business Management, Calcutta University, alongside a postgraduate diploma in Sports Management.

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Fact-checked by Gowri Rao

Bachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

Gowri Rao picture

Gowri RaoBachelor of Arts specializing in Economics

With a bachelor's degree in Economics from Krea University, Gowri is a highly skilled data analyst and an expert in regression and causation modeling. Her interests in economic trends, finance, and investment research complement her professional expertise. In addition to her professional pursuits, Gowri enjoys swimming, running, and playing the drums, and she is also a talented tutor.

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