Pallid and Common Swifts – juveniles (mostly)

Miracles of Migration

A Pallid Swift at Flamborough on Saturday (31st Oct)  was an amazing treat as it flew over and above my garden.

As often the identification began as a wrestle for observers. Just seeing a swift sp. well enough. The WHAT FEATURES to look for? I think the head and it’s plumage can be a very quick route to identification.

I got some nice pics of JUVENILE COMMON Swifts in late August. The PALLID SWIFT was a juvenile. So a little comparison is possible:

For me the striking isolated white throat of juvenile Common, dark behind eye is the quick giveaway so often. This is a hurried post but hopefully the pics are informative.

Pallid and Common Swift ID was covered in Challenge Series: AUTUMN. So I included a couple of Ray’s Sally’s illustrations which shows the features so well…

Juvenile Common Swifts:

The neatly demarcated white pattern on the throat and forehead is often a giveaway with dark behind the eye.

Common Swift 2 (1 of 1)Common Swift (1 of 1)

Juvenile Common Swift, part of the illustration by Ray Scally

Juvenile Common Swift, part of the illustration by Ray Scally

Love Ray Scally’s illustrations.

One of the most difficult subjects is getting across what is going on in the plumage of juvenile Swifts. This from the Challenge Series: AUTUMNjuv Swift 1 (1 of 1)


Juvenile Pallid Swifts:

Here on the Flamborough bird, Craig’s photos show a diffuse pattern of pale on the throat and there is obvious dark behind the eye- besides in this case the whole bird looking more brownish. The pale fringing is more creamy and evenly distributed and the primaries and secondaries contrast nicely with the slightly paler coverts. Can you see it ? 🙂 On juvenile Common pale fringing on juveniles is more concentrated on the outer coverts and more strikingly black and white. (see below).

Pallid Swift 1 CT 1 (1 of 1)Pallid Swift 1 CT 2 (1 of 1)


Palllid Swift 1 (1 of 1)



Ray Scally’s illustrating again showing the more even pale creamy fringing over the wing coverts. He done a good job!




Some Adult Swifts

Adult Common Swift in late August by MG

Common Swift in late August by MG – this may be an adult on head pattern- hard to be sure

Pallid Swift by Miki Vigiano

Adult Pallid Swift  in November by Miki Vigiano. This bird is showing moult limit in the secondaries


Pale fringing on juveniles.

Here’s the pale fringing thing on upperparts of juveniles again:

On juvenile Pallid Swift…

Pallid Swift 1 CT 1 (1 of 1)


On juvenile Common Swift (could be better pic!)

juvenile Swift 3 (1 of 1)


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