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The Armenian Birds


Проф. А. Ф. Ляйстер и Г. В. Соснин, Материалы по орнитофауне армянской ССР / Leister [Lyaister, A.F. & Sosnin, G.V.] (1942): [Materialy po ornitofaune armyanskoy SSR] (Ornis Armeniaca, in Russian), p. 200-201. Erevan. Akademiya nauk SSSR - Armyanskiy filial. Biologitsheskiy institute


(APUSlist No. 2181)






The Black Swift Apus apus apus


Generally reported as a widely distributed breeding bird, from the lowlands to the snowline. Nest places are those typical for the Apus apus species, being in buildings and crags.


In the absence of collected specimens, Bobrinskoy, following Hartert's nomenclature, identifies Swifts breeding in areas adjacent to Armenia (Surmalinski uyezd) as Apus apus marwitzi. This is incorrect, all known specimens of the Black Swift from Armenia are the typical A. a. apus.


Radde, publishing in 1855, describes the Black Swift “living in the basaltic areas of volcanic cones on the Armenian plateau. Similarly at Alagyoz I observed it on the northern side, near the Kiptchak monastery, and on the lower part of Mount Ararat. In the Araks River valley, it lives in high clay brick walls. These date from the days of the Persian Empire, and though now ruinous, have recently been in use as settlement forts. The Black Swift is very common near Lake Goktscha, near to Novobayazet, where only dark-throated birds were seen.”


Satunin, publishing in 1907, saw the Black Swift in June (year not recorded) in the former Kars Region, also near the settlements of Gyulabert, Arpashen, and Merdenek, and near shepherds’ enclosures at Shaki, where the birds were nesting.


Nesterov, publishing in1911, saw the birds that year near the settlement of Arsianski, at an altitude of over 3350m. On the Armenian Plateau he found the Black Swift nesting on 3 July in the settlement of Okam, on the 25 July near the settlement of Zurzun, and on the 26 July in cliffs by the banks of the Kura river, behind Ketek.


Satunin, publishing in 1912, observed birds that year in Sartar-bulag on Mount Ararat in the areas adjacent to Armenia (at 2350m above sea level): “a flock flying around at 6pm on 28 May”, and also in Ordubad where “the birds flew over the city every day”.


Sushkin, publishing in 1914, reports that in August that the Black Swift was sometimes seen flying high over Sartar-bulag.


Bobrinskoy, publishing in 1915 -16, informs us that in the former district of Surmalynski Uyezd, the Black Swift is mainly present in the mountains, nesting in rocks near the settlement of Zor. In the lowland it is to be seen flying over the Araks and Kara-Su rivers.


The birds were observed by Radugin, (1917) nesting in the Kotur-Urmiy region of Iran.


Sosnin observed the Black Swift in the following locations:


         19 to 25 June1928 - at Lake Sevan (at the settlement of Shordzha) (“a nest colony in the rocks above the Sevan shore”)

         16 August 1928 - large flocks observed over the lakes of Gilli and Sevan

         By the 30 August 1929 - reported that they had already left Erevan

         On 28 March 1930 - observed already flying over the River Sanga in the suburbs of Erevan

         1 to 3 July 1930 - observed in the settlement of Zeyva

         17 August 1930 - observed in the settlement of Miskhana (“I saw Alpine and Black Swifts flying over a forest “)

         5 August 1932 - observed in the settlement of Alaverdy (“not numerous”)

         1 August 1934 - observed in a canyon on the NW slopes of the Alagyoz Mountains, above the settlement of Artik (“nesting in rocks”)

         28 August 1938 – observed in the settlement of Chaykend in the district of Krasnosel'sky

         On 26 August 1939 - observed in the settlement of Gyulagarak (“over meadows”)


Tschikvishvili, publishing in 1933, saw the Black Swift near Lake Sagamo (also known as Tuman-Gyol) in Dzhavakhetia, (the area of Georgia closest to Armenia), on 16 July, also in Akhalkalaki on 18 July, and near the settlement of Gogasheni on 21 July, but in all these localities the Black Swift was seen only in low numbers.


In 1939, Lyaister reports sightings of the birds on 27 August – observed in the settlement of Gamzachiman (”many swifts in the air”).


Dahl, publishing in 1940, recorded Black Swifts over the northern slopes of the Saray-Bulag mountain range on 4 and 10 May 1939. From 23 June to 21 July the birds were often seen in the upper part of the valley of the River Akstafinka.


APUSlife 2006, No. 3076
ISSN 1438-2261