The IUCN lists no swifts as critically endangered, 1 species as endangered (Guam swiftlet Collocalia bartschi, and 5 species as vulnerable. Populations of other species such as chimney swifts (Chaetura pelagica), white-throated swifts (Aeronautes saxatalis) and black swifts (Cypseloides niger) are declining. Most of the North American species are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. No swifts are listed by CITES and one species (Mariam gray Aerodramus vanilrorensis bartschi) is listed by ESA.
Threats to swifts include: human disturbance, habitat loss, harvesting of nests, collisions with telephone wires, planes and buildings, pesticides (both those that harm birds directly and others that cause reductions in prey numbers), predation by introduced species (for example cats or snakes) and human induced climate change (since weather has such a large effect on breeding and foraging).
As their natural habitat disappears, some species can take advantage of man-made structures as nesting and roosting sites. The use of these sites can increase nest success and facilitate range expansion. However, now that some species rely on man-made roosting and nesting sites, they are having difficulty coping with human responses to their presence (for example, chimney caps designed to keep chimney swifts out). It is possible to build artificial roosting towers to provide additional roosting and nesting habitat for some species.
- 2003. "UNEP-WCMC Species Database: CITES-Listed Species" (On-line). Accessed November 14, 2003 at http://www.cites.org/eng/resources/species.html.
- IUCN, 2002. "The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species" (On-line). Accessed September 19, 2003 at http://www.redlist.org/.
- Kyle, P., G. Kyle. 2003. "Chimney Swifts Brochure" (On-line). Accessed September 30, 2003 at http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/nature/birding/chimneyswift/chimneyswift-index.htm.
- Threatened and Endangered Species System, 2003. "U.S. Listed Vertebrate Animal Species Report by Taoxonomic Group" (On-line). Accessed November 14, 2003 at http://ecos.fws.gov/tess_public/TESSWebpageVipListed?code=V&listings=0#B.
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, date unknown. "Birds Protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act" (On-line). Accessed November 14, 2003 at http://migratorybirds.fws.gov/intrnltr/mbta/mbtintro.html.