Thai National Parks

Birds of Thailand

Species of Thailand

Brown-backed needletail

Thai: นกแอ่นใหญ่หัวตาขาว, nok aen yai hua taa khaw

Binomial name: Hirundapus giganteus, Coenraad Jacob Temminck, 1825

The brown-backed needletail (Hirundapus giganteus), or brown needletail, is a large swift.

These birds have very short legs which they use only mainly for clinging to vertical surfaces. They never settle voluntarily on the ground and spend most of their lives in the air, living on the insects they catch in their beaks.

These swifts are resident breeders in hill forests in southern Asia from India east to Indonesia and the Philippines.

They build their nests in rock crevices in cliffs, laying 3-5 eggs. The flight is impressively fast, even compared to other swifts.

The brown-backed needletail is a very large swift, and at 23 cm is bigger than the Alpine swift and the white-throated needletail. It has a similar build to the latter species, with a heavy barrel-like body. They are dark brown except for a white undertail, which extends on to the flanks.

The Hirundapus needletailed swifts get their name from the spiny end to the tail, which is not forked as in the Apus typical swifts.

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Scientific classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Aves
Order
Apodiformes
Family
Apodidae
Genus
Hirundapus
Species
Hirundapus giganteus

Common names

  • Thai: นกแอ่นใหญ่หัวตาขาว, nok aen yai hua taa khaw

Conservation status

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

Least Concern (IUCN3.1)

No photo for this species yet

Distribution map of Brown-backed needletail, Hirundapus giganteus in Thailand
  • Ban Bueng District, Chonburi
  • Bang Lang National Park
  • Bang Phra Non-hunting Area
  • Bang Saphan Noi District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Bueng Khong Long Non-hunting Area
  • Chaloem Rattanakosin National Park
  • Chiang Dao District, Chiang Mai
  • Chiang Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Doi Inthanon National Park
  • Doi Lo District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Pha Hom Pok National Park
  • Doi Saket District, Chiang Mai
  • Doi Suthep-Pui National Park
  • Erawan National Park
  • Hala-Bala Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Hat Chao Mai National Park
  • Hat Noppharat Thara - Mu Ko Phi Phi National Park
  • Hua Hin District, Prachuap Khiri Khan
  • Kaeng Krachan National Park
  • Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Dinsor (Chumphon Raptor Center)
  • Khao Khiao - Khao Chomphu Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Khitchakut National Park
  • Khao Luang National Park
  • Khao Nam Khang National Park
  • Khao Phra - Bang Khram Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Phra Thaeo Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Soi Dao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Khao Sok National Park
  • Khao Yai National Park
  • Khlong Lan National Park
  • Khon San District, Chaiyaphum
  • Khun Chae National Park
  • Khun Tan District, Chiang Rai
  • Ko Libong
  • Kui Buri National Park
  • Mae Ping National Park
  • Mae Taeng District, Chiang Mai
  • Mae Wong National Park
  • Mu Ko Lanta National Park
  • Mu Ko Surin National Park
  • Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai
  • Mueang Chumphon District, Chumphon
  • Mueang Krabi District, Krabi
  • Mueang Nong Khai District, Nong Khai
  • Mueang Phetchaburi District, Phetchaburi
  • Mueang Phuket District, Phuket
  • Mueang Ranong District, Ranong
  • Mueang Songkhla District, Songkhla
  • Mueang Tak District, Tak
  • Nam Nao National Park
  • Ngao Waterfall National Park
  • Nong Bong Khai Non-hunting Area
  • Pa Sang District, Lamphun
  • Pachee River Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Pak Thale
  • Pang Sida National Park
  • Pha Daeng National Park
  • Phu Chong Na Yoi National Park
  • Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary
  • Phu Kradueng National Park
  • Phu Langka National Park
  • Phu Wiang National Park
  • Ramkhamhaeng National Park
  • Sai Yok District, Kanchanaburi
  • Sai Yok National Park
  • Sakaerat Environmental Research Station
  • San Kala Khiri National Park
  • San Sai District, Chiang Mai
  • Sri Phang-nga National Park
  • Tai Rom Yen National Park
  • Takua Pa District, Phang Nga
  • Tarutao National Marine Park
  • Than Sadet - Koh Pha-Ngan National Park
  • Thap Lan National Park

Range map of Hirundapus giganteus in Thailand

Important note; our range maps are based on limited data we have collected. The data is not necessarily accurate or complete.

Special thanks to Ton Smits, Parinya Pawangkhanant, Ian Dugdale and many others for their contribution for range data.

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