White-collared Swift Nest in Belize, Central America

by Bryce W. Robinson


A watercolor sketch to describe the White-collared Swift. So far, I’ve been unable to obtain a proper photo…

In May, while accessing an Orange-breasted Falcon nest, I found the nest of a White-collared Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris). This species is a large, widely distributed swift of the neotropics. It is an amazing aerialist, foraging in large flocks that are incredible to watch.

Equally incredible is their nesting habitat. They nest on cliffs, most often associated with waterfalls and caves. Below is a photo that shows their typical habitat, complete with a waterfall descending hundreds of feet into a steep river canyon, covered with lush neotropical forest.


Photographing a White-collared Swift nest on a waterfall in Central America. Photo: Matt Allshouse.

I noticed birds occasionally leaving the foraging flock and coming into the waterfall. One bird flew past me, only feet away, and disappeared. I recognized the only area it could have gone, and upon investigation it flew from a small opening directly adjacent to flowing water. I had found a nest.


Photographing a White-collared Swift nest on a waterfall in Central America. Photo: Matt Allshouse.


White-collared Swift nest – center dark spot below the green vegetation.

In the nest were two bald nestlings. I quickly documented the situation and left, so that the bird could return and attend to the young. The nest seemed to be constructed of mud, twigs or grass, pine needles, and it had moss either as part of its structure or growing throughout.


This was my first swift nest. Swifts nest in a variety of situations: Buildings and chimneys, tree cavities, cliffs, and of course the most incredible is behind waterfalls.

If you want to learn more about White-collared Swift nesting habits, or anything related to their life history, visit the species account on Neotropical Birds Online.

Roper, E. M..(2011).White-collared Swift (Streptoprocne zonaris), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online: https://neotropical.birds.cornell.edu/Species-Account/nb/species/whcswi