Malagasy Palm-Swift Cypsiurus gracilis

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Identification

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A very slender gray-brown swift with a long, deeply forked tail that is often held closed, making it look needle-like and pointed. The erratic flight pattern, with frequent direction changes and rapid wingbeats on long, scythe-shaped wings, is distinctive. Less gregarious than other swifts; usually found in pairs or small flocks, and association with other swallows and swifts is usually only fleeting. Forages over a wide variety of habitats with palms, including savanna, coastal scrub, towns, villages, cultivated areas, forest edge, and clearings, from sea level up to 1100 meters of elevation, preferring lowlands. Nests and roosts in palms, especially Hyphaene, Bismarckia, and coconut palms. Gives a high-pitched, metallic “tre-tit-tit-tit-tit-tit-tit-tit” call, solitarily or in unison with others. Separated from other swifts by its longer and thinner tail. Further separated from the larger Madagascar Swift by its much weaker and more fluttering flight.

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