Birds of North Carolina:
their Distribution and Abundance
Cypseloides Swift sp. - Cypseloides sp.
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General Comments In fall 2011, an all-dark swift, identified and described as a Black Swift (Cypseloides niger), was seen in flight in the Hemphill Bald area of Haywood, very close to the boundary of Great Smoky Mountains NP. The NC BRC accepted the report, but only to the genus, as there are several similar species in this genus (Cypseloides) in the Neotropics. Though the chance that one of these other species could have appeared in the state's mountain region is very small, a few others can look nearly identical to Black Swift at a distance. The report came right after the passage of a hurricane through the West Indies and along the Eastern coast of the United States. The Black Swift has a migratory population in the Western states, where it is rare and local, but it also has a generally non-migratory population in the West Indies. Speculation is that the hurricane displaced a bird from the West Indies population, as there was another "Black Swift" report about the same time in coastal New Jersey. Even had the North Carolina bird been photographed, identification of swifts from photos is tricky, as there are so many species that are similar-looking, and as the birds are typically 100 or more yards away from an observer.
Breeding Status Nonbreeder
NC BRC List Provisional
State Status
U.S. Status
State Rank SA
Global Rank
Coastal Plain No records.
Piedmont No records.
Mountains Accidental. One bird, reported as a Black Swift, was seen on 19 Sep 2011* in Haywood [Chat 76:2-3 link]; [Chat 76:30 link]. As mentioned in the General Comments, it was accepted by the NC BRC only at the genus level.
Finding Tips
1/2 *
Attribution LeGrand[2018-02-01], LeGrand[2014-06-08], LeGrand[2012-07-14]
NC Map
Map depicts all counties with a report (transient or resident) for the species.
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