Vaux's Swift
(Chaetura vauxi)


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

The Vaux's Swift breeds in the mountains of western North America and winters primarily in Central America. A resident population also lives in Central America and northern Venezuela year-round (Bull and Collins 2007). Breeding Bird Survey results suggest an approximate 34% decrease in population size in Canada since the early 1970s, but the precision of that estimate is medium. Conservation concerns for the species centre on its preference for nesting in large hollow trees, an increasingly rare feature in forests and woodlands. 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
IUCN (Global)Least concern2018 
Wild Species (Canada)Secure2015 
Bird Conservation Region StrategyPriority Species2013 

Population status

Geographic area or populationPopulation change relative to ~1970ReliabilityStatus in relation to goal
CanadaModerate DecreaseMediumBelow Acceptable Level

Population estimate

Geographic area or populationPopulation estimate
Canada50,000 - 500,000 adults

Distribution maps


Migration strategy, occurrence

Long-distance migrant

Responsibility for conservation

Geographic areaResponsibility based on % of global population

Conservation and management

Unlike its close relative the Chimney Swift, the Vaux's Swift still nests and roosts primarily in large, hollow trees, particularly red cedar and cottonwood (Bull and Collins 2007). These have become rare over the past century, which may be limiting the swifts' breeding opportunities (Bull and Collins 2007). In the 1980s, there was a negative change point in the Breeding Bird Survey population trends of swallows, swifts, and nightjars across most of North America (Smith et al. 2015). Causes of these declines remain unclear, but losses in aerial insect populations through pesticide use have been suggested as one possible common factor, as have changes to the landscape and climate change (Blancher et al. 2009, Nebel et al. 2010).


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 -- Conservation
Northern Pacific RainforestNorthern Pacific Rainforest, sub-region and priority type: Pacific and Yukon -- Stewardship