Species Information

Aerodramus sawtelli

Species Authority

Holyoak, 1974

Common Name/s

Atiu Swiftlet

Species Status


Organism Type

Land bird


Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Caprimulgiformes
Family: Apodidae



Invasive Species Threat Summary

The Atiu Swiftlet Aerodramus sawtelli is classified as ‘Vulnerable (VU)’ in the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. It is endemic to the Cook Islands and is now restricted to the island of Atiu (BirdLife International 2008).

The total population is estimated at 350 mature individuals and is thought to be stable (BirdLife International 2011).

This species feeds over fernlands and mixed horticultural areas, and nests colonially in limestone cAves.

Main threats to the Atiu Swiftlet include predation of chicks by the coconut crab (Birgus latro) and the land crab (Cardisoma longipes). Pacific rats (Rattus exulans) are present on Atiu and may also pose a threat to this species. Disturbance caused by ecotourism in nesting areas could also present a problem (BirdLife International 2011).

Invasive Species Management Summary

A programme to control rats has been implemented. The programme includes baiting to prevent arrival of Black rats (Rattus rattus) (not present on Atiu), increased community vigilance through reporting of rats in cargo, and response with traps and toxic bait. Control of Pacific rats close to breeding caves is recommended. Surveys of the population have been conducted and resurveying is recommended which should include a detailed study of the breeding biology over a full season. Other recommendations include excluding crabs from breeding caves, monitoring and regulation of tourism and investigating the possibility of translocation to other islands (BirdLife International 2011).


Implemented by
An Initiative of the ACP Group, funded by the European Union under the 10th EDF