Black Swift
(Cypseloides niger)


Picture of bird
© Glen Tepke (
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In Canada, the breeding range of the Black Swift includes south, central and northwestern 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 the early 1970s. In 2015, the Black Swift was 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.


Main designations for the species
DesignationStatusDateSubspecies, population
COSEWIC (Canada)Endangered2015 
SARA (Canada)No Status  
IUCN (Global)Vulnerable2018 
Partners in Flight (North America)Watch list - yellow D2017 
Wild Species (Canada)Imperiled2015 
State of North America’s BirdsWatch list2016 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaLarge DecreaseLowBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada5,000 - 50,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global 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. More specifically, it is vulnerable to the drying of ephemeral waterfalls required for nesting sites (Marks and Casey 2005). Pesticides were recently identified as one of the largest possible threats to the species, affecting them through ingestion of poisoned insects, effects to their reproduction and overall insect abundance (COSEWIC 2015). 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 -- Other
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation & Stewardship
Northern RockiesNorthern Rockies, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Conservation