The Swallow-Winged Puffbird (Chelidoptera tenebrosa)


One of the hardest #BeakoftheWeek challenges we have posed so far, with a combination of an open bill and dark plumage making it hard to identify, the swallow-winged puffbird is under scrutiny today.

Swallow winged puffbird

Swallow winged puffbird

The only member of Chelidoptera in the puffbird family (Bucconidae), these birds weigh between 30 and 41.5g, so about the same as a regular packet of crisps, and are about 15cm long.  They usually lay clutches of 1-2 eggs which take 15 days to hatch in nests in tunnels dug in flat sandy ground.  They are commonly seen in pairs on exposed branches from where they fly up to catch their insect prey which is usually consumed in flight, although here is a nice video of one showing off its catch.  This species has a wide ranging distribution and they are listed as of least concern on the IUCN redlist with their numbers seen to be increasing.

Xeno Canto has a small selection of songs from this species if you want to hear them in action.



BirdLife International (2015) Species factsheet: Chelidoptera tenebrosa. Downloaded from on 01/07/2015.

. 2010. Swallow-winged Puffbird (Chelidoptera tenebrosa), Neotropical Birds Online (T. S. Schulenberg, Editor). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; retrieved from Neotropical Birds Online:

Rasmussen, P.C. & Collar, N. (2002). Swallow-winged Puffbird (Chelidoptera tenebrosa). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.) (2014). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 1 July 2015).

Images and videos

Swallow-winged puffbird” by Carmelo López Abad licensed under CC BY-NC 3.0.