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The Birds of East Persia from 1903


Zarudnoï [Zarudny], N. (1903): Les oiseaux de la Perse Orientale. Matériaux ornithologiques du voyage fait en 1898. In Mémoires de la Société Impériale Russe de Géographie. Sec. géo.gén. Tome 36, no.2, p. 20, 177-180, L'Académie Impériale des Sciences. St.-Pétersbourg (Russian)


(APUSlist No. 3083)






Family Cypselidae


Cypselus apus, L.


1-2. Meshed, 20.03; m (male), f (female)

3. Feramun, 29.03.; m

4. Huram-abad, 02.04.; m

5. Turbet-Sheikh-i-Dzham, 03.04.; m

6. Kurut, 04.04.; f


The European Black Swift is known throughout Persia only as a migrant, and in much lower numbers than the more common form, Cypselus apus pekinensis. Since it is impossible to distinguish these separate sub-species in flight, the dates given below are for their joint migration.


The first Swifts, a flock of ten individuals, were seen on the 17th March (Julian calendar, for Gregorian calendar add 12 days) near Mir-abad (on the Kuchan-Meshed plain).


Having arrived in Meshed on the 20th March, I found many Swifts in the city, their numbers growing until our departure on the 26th March. It is of note that the massive arrival of the swifts was earlier than the arrival of the Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica.


The migrating Swifts were very often observed along the road from Meshed through Turbet-Sheikh-i-Dzham, Kyariz and Kerat in Moudzhnabad (from the 26th March to the 18th April), in the greatest numbers between the 4th and the 11th April.


The Russian General Consul in Meshed, Mr P.G. Panafidin, reported that the swifts left Meshed in the middle of July. When I was there in the autumn, I did not see C. apus at all.


Of the collected specimens, Nos.1 to 4 are typical, and Nos. 5 and 6 are intermediate forms between apus and pekinensis.



Cypselus apus pekinensis, Swinh.


1-2. Meshed, 20.03.; m, m

3. Seng-i-Vest, 27.03.; m

4.-5. Gerri-Rud, 08.04.; m, f

6. Kerat, 14.04.; m

7. Gezikh, 27.04.; f

8. Moudzhnabad, 16.10. m


This race nests, sometimes in large numbers, in many localities in the study area of eastern Persia, from the Russian border to the mountains forming the north-western border of Seystan.


It was not seen either in Seystan or further to the south in the region of Sargad, apart from birds observed in the locality of Lyaadis on the 29th August, near Tamyn on the 24th August, and on the mountain of Kukh-i-Tuftan on the 25th and 26th August, belonging perhaps to this form or else to C. murinus.


Looking at the exemplars I collected, and generally at other collected birds, C. apus and C. pekinensis live in different, not mixed, flocks. Having missed this form in Seystan and Sargad, and travelling on northwards, I met this form only once, when I found a large flock near Moudzhnabad on the 16th October.


All specimens enumerated in the list are distinguishable from the nominate C. apus, by the generally paler plumage colour, with narrow whitish or pale-grey margins to the feathers of the head, upper and lower tail coverts, belly and back, a whitish or greyish front, and a very large white spot on the belly. White margins to the upper and lower tail coverts and on the belly, sometimes even on the head, appear even when the plumage is worn.


© APUSlife 2006, No. 3133 
ISSN 1438-2261