Black Swift
(Cypseloides niger)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
For additional photos and vocalizations, visit Dendroica. (Link opens in a new window.)

In Canada, the breeding range of the Black Swift is restricted to southern British Columbia and southwestern Alberta. Elsewhere, isolated populations occur in the western United States, Mexico and the Caribbean. Although the reliability of Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) data for this species is low, it is the only source of data on population change. BBS results suggest a large decrease in population since 1973. In 2015, the Black Swift as assessed as Endangered by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada (COSEWIC), based on the species' highly specialised feeding and nesting habits and the suspected population decrease. This species has been identified as a priority for conservation and/or stewardship in one or more Bird Conservation Region Strategies in Canada.


Listing of the main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2015 
SARA (Canada)No Status2015 
IUCN (Global)Least Concern2012 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch List Species2012 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2010 
Partners in Flight (Tri-National Vision)High Tri-National Concern2012 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic areaStatusReliability
CanadaLarge DecreaseLow

Population estimate

Canada50,000 to 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation of world population


Conservation and management

Causes of the population decline for this species are not well known (Lowther et al. 2002). The United States State of the Birds 2010 Report on Climate Change has listed Black Swift as highly vulnerable to climate change, and more specifically, it is vulnerable to the drying of ephemeral waterfalls required for breeding (Marks and Casey 2005). The Black Swift is one of several species of aerial-foraging insectivores showing widespread declines in Canada. Changes in aerial insect populations have been suggested as one possible common factor as well as landscape changes and the effects of climate change (Blancher et al. 2009, Nebel et al. 2010). Knowledge of migration routes and wintering locations is incomplete.


Bird conservation region strategies

Environment and Climate Change Canada and partners have developed Bird Conservation Region Strategies in each of Canada’s Bird Conservation Regions (BCRs). In these strategies, selected species are identified as priorities for one or more of the following reasons:

  • conservation concerns (i.e., species vulnerable due to population size, distribution, population trend, abundance, or threats)
  • stewardship responsibilities (i.e., species that typify the regional avifauna or have a large proportion of their range or population in the sub-region)
  • management concerns (i.e., species that require ongoing management because of their socio-economic importance as game species, or because of their impacts on other species or habitats)
  • other concerns (i.e., species deemed a priority by regional experts for other reasons than those listed above or because they are listed as species at risk or concern at the provincial level)

Select any of the sub-regions below to view the BCR strategy for additional details.

BCRs, marine biogeographic units, and sub-regions in which the species is listed as a priority
RegionSub-region and priority type
Great BasinGreat Basin, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon Region