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

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


Size: 20.5-22 cm

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)

Featured reports: Nov 2022

Past accepted records in our database:

Migrant bar chart (see more bar charts):

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.