Brown-backed Needletail

Scientific Name: Hirundapus giganteus

Malay Name: Layang-layang Besar Biasa

Chinese Name: 褐背针尾雨燕

Range: Found from Indian subcontinent to Southeast Asia

Taxonomy: Polytypic. Subspecies are: indicus, giganteus.

Local Subspecies: giganteus, indicus

Size: 21-24.5 cm

Identification: Migratory subspecies indicus looks bulky and has mostly blackish body, distinctive white lower flanks and vent, brownish saddle on lower mantle and white loral spot. The resident subspecies of Thai-Malay Peninsula giganteus is larger than indicus and lacks the white loral spot.

Similar looking species: Silver-rumped Spinetail, White-throated Needletail, Silver-backed Needletail

Habitat: Forested and open areas.

Behaviour/Ecology: Has fast gliding flight, wings make loud whooshing sound when zooming overhead.

Local Status: Rare migrant and very rare visitor

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

Location: Bukit Timah Nature Reserve (Summit), Jelutong Tower and Chinese Garden.

Past records in our database:

Showing only accepted records. Records currently under review are also not displayed. For a full list, click here.

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):


BirdLife International. (2016). Hirundapus giganteus. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2016. Accessed on 1 January 2023

Robson, C. (2014). Field guide to the birds of South-East Asia (Second Edition). Bloomsbury Publishing, London.