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Aepypodius, Aerodramus and Aeronautes. A-Z of Bird genera

Updated on December 2, 2015

Wattled brush Turkey



In this series of articles, A-Z of Bird Genera, we review the species that are allocated to the various genera. These species are diverse in their form, lifestyle and habits and occur in all parts of the world. Here review the species which occur in the genera Aegypodius, Aerodramus and Aeronautes.

We commence with the genus Aegypodius which contains just two species, the Wattled Brush Turkey {Image above}, and the Waigeo Brush turkey.

The Wattled Brush turkey in captivity

Artis Zoo Amsterdam Netherlands.
Artis Zoo Amsterdam Netherlands. | Source

The Wattle brush Turkey

The Wattled Brush Turkey, Aepypodius arfakianus, is found in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, where it is encountered in sub-tropical-or tropical moist ,low land or mountainous forests. They belong to the family Megapodiidae,in the order Galliformes.

The bird is 38-46 cm {19 inches long} and is a dark,. partridge like bird. The male has a bright reddish comb and neck wattle, which become duller outside the breeding season. The overall plumage is colour a dark reddish brown. The bare facial skin is bluish white to bluish grey.. They have bluish grey to olive-brown legs.

They are encountered in pairs or solitarily. They tend to fly up into trees when disturbed and they also utilize trees in which to roost. They feed on fallen fruit and seeds, but they are also likely to take insects. Like many of their congeners they eat small stones and grit to help aid digestion.

There have been nests recorded in all most every month of the year with the exception of July, August, and November. The nest itself is a large bulky structure and it is thought to be constructed by the male. Studies have revealed that the rotting material in the nest aids incubation.

There are two sub species Aepypodius arfakianus arfakianus, which occurs in the mountains of New Guinea, and Yapen Island. Aepypodius aefakianus misoliensis, occurs in the mountain regions of Misool Islands {off north west New Guinea}. The latter sub-species has a blue comb and is generally smaller than the nominate species, which in general has a brighter plumage. There are no current conservation concern.

Waigeo Brush Turkey


The Waigeo Brush Turkey

The Waigeo Brush Turkey Aepypodius bruijnii, is some times referred to as Bruijn's Brush Turkey is a species about seventeen and a half inches long with a general black brown plumage colour. The bare facial skin of this species is red, they have a red comb, maroon rump and the under parts are chestnut brown. There are two elongated red wattles on the back of the head and another long wattle on the fore neck. both sexes are similar however, the female has a smaller comb and no wattles.

They occur in the mountain forests of the Waigeo Island {from which they take one of its common names}, of West Papua. Its other name of Bruijn's Brush Turkey is derived after the Dutch Merchant Anton August Bruijn.

This has always been a scarce species with only twenty five birds known at one time. It was relocated in 2002, Indeed this species is classed as Endangered, due to loss of habitat, hunting and other factors.

Indian 'edible birds nest' swift Aerodramus unicolor


The genus Aerodramus

Here we meet with a genus of small, dark coloured cave-nesting birds in the family Apodidae, they are placed in the tribe known as the Collocaliini. All of the species are confined to the tropical and sub tropical regions in southern Asia, Oceania, and north eastern Australia.

The greatest diversity seems to occur in south-east Asia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea. There are around fifty species. Some of the species are confined to small islands and as such are vulnerable. We commence with the Indian swiftlet which is a resident breeder in the hills of Sri Lanka and southwest India. these birds are colonial breeders.

It is a small swift around six inches long and the plumage is predominantly dark brown above and paler below. The wings are held swept back forming a crescent shape when in flight. The tail is short and slightly forked. The body is slender. The bill is small but capable of opening into a very wide gape. Both sexes are similar. They have very short legs, however, the legs are only required for clinging on to vertical surfaces, for they seldom alight on the ground.

They feed on a diet of insects caught in flight as they trawl the air, they also drink on the wing.In India they are found from sea-level up to the mountains of the western Ghats. In Sri Lanka they are more of an upland species.

They tend to breed in colonies ,sometimes these colonies are very large. They nest in caves, but also railway tunnels. They leave the colony and dawn and return again at dusk. The nest is a white shiny half cup, constructed of saliva, which contains plant material and feathers. These tasteless nests are edible and eaten in 'Birds nest soup', in which chicken and other ingredients are incorporated. Two eggs are laid. There are nor current conservation concerns.

The Philippine Swiftelt Aerodramus mearnsi

Aerodramus mearnsi, is a small swiftlet, four and a half inches long and it is a species endemic to the Philippines. The upper parts are dark brown, the rump uniform with paler mid-brown under parts and a slightly forked tail. Field identification is somewhat difficult due to similarities with other related swiftlets..

These birds tend to be uncommon or rare, however, due to the similarities already mentioned, the population number is hard to ascertain. They are birds of sub-mountainous forests where they take insects during flight. The nest of this species is a shallow saucer composed of moss cemented by saliva. The female lays four eggs. There are records of a nest being found deep inside a large cave and some authorities believe that this species is capable of echolocation similar to that used by bats.

Moluccan swiftlets

The Moluccan swiftlets, are a group of three species of swift that are endemic to Indonesia, and were once considered to be conspecific. The three in this group are The Sulawesi swiflet Aerodramus sorocum, Halmahera swiftlet, Aerodramus infuscatus, and Seram swiftlet , Aerodramus ceramensis, occurs in the Sarem islands. They are extremely difficult to tell apart in the field Their behaviour and nesting habits are the same as those already previously mentioned

Another swiftlet Aerodramus franciscus


Swiftlets nesting


Mountain swiflet

The Mountain Swiftlet, Aerodramus hirundinaceus, is endemic to the island of New Guinea and nearby islandsit is also another species that was once placed in the genus Collocallia. There are three recognized sub species.

It is a medium sized bird, six inches long that has the familiar dark brown underparts with pale grey underparts. The tail is moderately forked.

The sub species Aerodramus Hirundinaceus hirundinaceus occurs over most of New Guinea. A h baru, occurs on Yapen island and A.h excelus, occurs in the Snow mountains and Carstemz peaks of Irian ,Jaya.

It is a species with a wide range of habitats including highland forests up to 4000m. Much fewer numbers are encountered over lo land moist forests. They are highly gregarious birds and are often seen feeding in flight with other swifts. They tend to breed in colonies in caves. The nest is a bulky affair composed of moss, ferns, grass etc,,with hardly any saliva thought to be used.

Their are records of nests being found in use on the floor of caves. The female will lay a single egg. The total period of incubation to fledgling chicks is between fifty seven and seventy four days, which is relatively longer than most other of their congeners. Their are no current conservation concerns over this species.

Aerodramus maximus

Upper Peirce reservoir -Singapore
Upper Peirce reservoir -Singapore | Source

White rumped swiftlet. Aerodramus spodiopygius

Taken at Eua Tonga
Taken at Eua Tonga | Source

Palawan swiftlet . Aerodramus palawanensis

These birds are thought to echolocation to hunt.
These birds are thought to echolocation to hunt. | Source

Germain's swiflet juveniles.

These chicks had fallen from the nest at the Chong Lom temple in Thailand and were reared by hand
These chicks had fallen from the nest at the Chong Lom temple in Thailand and were reared by hand | Source

Uniform swiftlet


Other species of Aerodramus

Other species of Aerodramus and their country of origin are as follows-

White rumped Swiftlet, Aerodramus spodiopygius, is a bird of Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Solomon islands, Tonga and near by islands. This bird must not be confused with the White rumped swift, which belongs to the genus Apus. {see image}.

Australian Swiftlet. A.terraereginae, was once considered to be a form of the previous species until recently. It occurs in North east Queensland south to Eungella range.

Himalayan swiftlet. Aerodramus brevirostris, a common colonial breeder in the Himalayas and southeast Asia

Bare legged swiftlet, Aerodramus nuditarsus,occurs in Indonesia and Papua New guinea.

Palawan swiftlet, Aerodramus palawanensis, is endemic to the Philippines,

Grey swiftlet, Aerodramus vanikorensis amelis, endemic to the Philippines.

Palau swiftlet. Aerodramus pelewensis, Endemic to Palau.

Island swiftlet, Aerodramus inquietus, endemic to the Caroline islands.

Tahiti swiftlet, Aerodramus leucphaeus, endemic to the Society islands in French Polynesia

Marquesian swiftlet, Aerodramus ocistus, endemic to French Polynesia.

Black nest swiftlet, Aerodramus maximus, as a wide distribution including the Philippines, Myanmar, Singapore and Vietnam.

Germain swiftlet Aerodramus germani , China,, Indonesia, Laos, Singapore, Philippines.

Three toed swiftlet, Aerodramus papuensis, occurs in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea.

Mossy nest swiftlet, Aerodramus salangana, occurs in northern Borneo and Islands off western Sumatra and Java.

Uniform swiftlet, Aerodramus vanikorenisis, Philippines New Guinea and Melanesia.

Mossy nest swiftlet

On nest in a cave at Sarawak Malaysia.
On nest in a cave at Sarawak Malaysia. | Source

Species under threat

Seychelles swiftlet, is endemic to the Seychelles { Indian Ocean }, is classed as being vulnerable due to the small population, loss of breeding sites and introduced predators.

Mascarene swiftlet Aerodramus franciscus

Aitu Swiftlet


Andean swift


White tipped swift


The genus Aeronautes

The genus Aeronautes, contains just three species of swift in the Apodidae family which frequent sub-tropical and tropical lowland moist forests and moist mountainous forests where they are encountered at high elevations.

White tipped swift, .Aeronautes montivagus , is a medium sized black and white swift with sharply pointed wings and a somewhat large tail which is slightly forked. The general dark plumage contrasts with the white throat and white thighs.

They feed in small flocks and nest in rock cavities and old buildings. There are no conservation concern.

The Andean swift. Aeronautes andecolus, is a bird of Argentina, Bolivia Chile, and Peru, where it is encountered in sub-tropical and tropical high altitude shrub-land. it has only recently been moved into the genus from the genus Apus.

Currently there are three sub-species recognized. They breed in almost inaccessible breeding sites on mountainous cliffs and thus little is known about the nest, eggs or chicks. They have much lighter under-parts and faces than the previous species. There are no current conservation concerns.

The White throated swift Aeronautes saxatilis is native to western North America. they are migratory and move to the most southern parts of their range during the winter months. They are birds about six and a half inches long and is distinguished from other North American swifts by the white throat patch that extends down to the belly. The undersides, belly and breast are black the undersides of the wing are a greyish colour. There are no current conservation concerns.

White throated swift

Uploaded to Commons via Richard 001
Uploaded to Commons via Richard 001 | Source


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    • D.A.L. profile imageAUTHOR


      3 years ago from Lancashire north west England


      hello Devika , thank you for your kind comments and for tweeting, both are truly appreciated. Best wishes to you.

      Hi Deb, I hope you do get to those parts of the world and don't forget to take you r cameras . Best wishes to you.

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 

      3 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      I must say that Papua New Guinea has the most interesting birds in the world, some of which spill over to Australia. I really MUST get to that part of the world.

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Beautiful birds! I did not know of the Turkey types of birds but knew of the Swiftlets. Interesting and I learned lots from you about nature and what it holds. Always a learning lesson from you. I Tweeted!


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