Crested Treeswift in Rajaji National Park

Soaring through the dense canopy of Rajaji National Park, a flash of grey catches your eye. It’s the Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata), a captivating aerial insectivore with a unique presence in the rich tapestry of the park’s wildlife.

A Master of the Skies

It belonging to the Tree Swift family is not to be confused with true swifts. While both excel at aerial acrobatics, the Treeswift has a more slender build and a characteristic long, forked tail. Adult males can be identified by their striking orange facial patches, adding a touch of color to their predominantly dove-grey plumage.

A Life on the Wing

Unlike true swifts who spend most of their lives airborne, it readily perches on high branches, scanning the forest for its next meal. Their sharp eyesight allows them to spot insects in flight, which they then snatch up with their agile beaks. Their diet consists primarily of flying insects like termites, dragonflies, and damselflies.

A Forest Dweller

Crested Treeswift
Crested Treeswift

It is a common resident breeder in the Indian subcontinent, including the verdant expanse of Rajaji National Park. They prefer open woodlands and deciduous forests, finding an abundance of insects and suitable nesting sites amidst the trees. These birds typically build tiny nests on exposed branches, using saliva and plant fibers to create a cradle for their single blue-grey egg.

A Secretive Nester

The nesting behavior of the Crested Treeswift is quite remarkable. The nest itself is so small that incubating adults have to perch upright on the edge, covering the egg with their underparts feathers. This unique posture ensures the egg remains warm and protected throughout the incubation period.

A Vital Part of the Ecosystem

Crested Treeswift
Crested Treeswift

It plays a crucial role in maintaining the ecological balance of Rajaji National Park. By preying on insects, they help control their populations and prevent outbreaks. Their presence also serves as an indicator of a healthy forest ecosystem with an abundance of insect life.

Spotting the Crested Treeswift

If you’re fortunate enough to visit Rajaji National Park, keep your eyes peeled for the Crested Treeswift. They are most active during the day, flitting through the treetops in search of prey. Their high-pitched calls, resembling a harsh “kee-kyew,” can also be a helpful clue to their presence.

Its graceful flight and unique nesting habits make it a fascinating resident of Rajaji National Park. By understanding its role in the ecosystem and appreciating its beauty, we can ensure the continued thriving of this aerial wonder in the park’s lush embrace.

Crested Treeswift
Crested Treeswift

A Symphony of the Skies

The dawn chorus in Rajaji National Park often includes the vocalizations of the Crested Treeswift. Their high-pitched calls, described as “kee-knew” or “kik-kik-kik,” mingle with the songs of other birds, creating a symphony of sound that fills the forest air. These calls serve various purposes, from communication between mates to territorial defense.

A Family Affair

It exhibits a cooperative breeding behavior. While the parents take turns incubating the egg, other members of the group, possibly offspring from previous broods, may assist in feeding the chick after it hatches. This social behavior ensures the chick’s survival and increases the overall breeding success of the group.

A Master of Camouflage

Crested Treeswift
Crested Treeswift

It plumage provides excellent camouflage amidst the foliage. Their predominantly grey upper parts blend seamlessly with the tree bark, while the white underparts offer countershading, making them less visible from below. This natural camouflage helps them avoid predators like hawks and falcons.

Threats and Conservation

The Crested Treeswift, although a common resident, faces certain threats. Habitat loss due to deforestation and degradation can impact their nesting sites and food availability. Insecticide use in agricultural areas bordering the park can also reduce insect populations, affecting their food source.

Conservation efforts focused on protecting forests and minimizing pesticide use are crucial for safeguarding the Crested Treeswift population in Rajaji National Park. Additionally, raising awareness about these fascinating birds can encourage responsible eco-tourism practices that benefit the park’s ecosystem as a whole.

Crested Treeswift
Crested Treeswift


The presence of the Crested Treeswift in Rajaji National Park serves as a testament to the park’s ecological richness and biodiversity. As stewards of this precious natural heritage, it is our collective responsibility to ensure the continued protection and conservation of this magnificent species and its habitat. By supporting sustainable tourism practices and advocating for wildlife conservation, we can help preserve the beauty and diversity of Rajaji National Park for generations to come.

FAQs about Crested Treeswifts

1. What is a Crested Treeswift?

A Crested Treeswift (Hemiprocne coronata) is a species of arboreal bird found in the Indian subcontinent and Southeast Asia. It is characterized by its sleek body, long wings, and distinctive crested head.

2. Where is Rajaji National Park located?

Rajaji National Park is situated in the state of Uttarakhand, India, encompassing an area of over 820 square kilometers. It is spread across the Shivalik range and is known for its rich biodiversity and pristine natural beauty.

3. What is the habitat of Crested Treeswifts in Rajaji National Park?

Crested Treeswifts inhabit the dense forests and wooded areas of Rajaji National Park. They are often observed perched high in the treetops, where they build their nests and hunt for flying insects.

4. Are Crested Treeswifts endangered?

Crested Treeswifts are not currently classified as a threatened species. However, conservation efforts are essential to safeguard their natural habitats and ensure their long-term survival.

5. How can visitors spot Crested Treeswifts in Rajaji National Park?

Visitors to Rajaji National Park can embark on guided wildlife safaris and nature walks to explore the park’s diverse ecosystems and observe Crested Treeswifts in their natural habitat. These birds are often seen gliding gracefully through the canopy of trees in search of prey.

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