Silver-backed Needletail

This species is defined as a Review Species . Please submit your records of this species via our record submission page .

Scientific Name: Hirundapus cochinchinensis

Malay Name: Layang-layang Besar Rengkung Pudar

Chinese Name: 灰喉针尾雨燕

Range: Found from Nepal, Indian subcontinent to southern China and winters to Southeast Asia except the Philippines

Taxonomy: Monotypic.

Size: 20.5-22 cm

Identification: Resembles Brown-backed Needletail but centre of saddle distinctively silvery-grey and lacks white spot on lores. Distinguished from White-throated Needletail by the paler, brownish-grey throat patch.

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

Habitat: Forested and open areas.

Behaviour/Ecology: Highly active, only staying at one site for any length of time if drinking or feeding. Often seen in association with Brown-backed Needletail.

Local Status: Rare migrant

Conservation Status: Least Concern (BirdLife International 2016)

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):

Silver-backed Needletail Hirundapus cochinchinensis
Average number of individuals by week based on Singapore Bird Database data, Jul 2016 to Jun 2023 (all records)
Peak weeks Nov 12-Nov 18, Nov 19-Nov 25
Early date 08 Sep 1990
Late date 07 Apr 2001
All confirmed records in the last 10 years have come during the months of Oct and Nov, and mostly seen at the end of Nov.


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

Chantler, P. (2000). Swifts: A Guide to the Swifts and Treeswifts of the World. Yale University Press.

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

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