Range map of the Edible-nest Swiftlet, adapted from HBW (2018).
8 current subspecies are recognized as shown below (with range and comparative descriptions):
- A. f. amechanus (Oberholser, 1912) – Anambas Is, off SE Peninsular Malaysia.
- Paler underparts with greyer rump than germani
- A. f. germani (Oustalet, 1876) – Coastline from W Hainan S around SE Asia to Malay Peninsula, including Mergui Archipelago (off S Myanmar); coastal N Borneo and W Philippines (Palawan E to Panay and Ticao).
- Paler underparts and whitish rump
- A. f. inexpectatus (A. O. Hume, 1873) – Andaman Is and Nicobar Is.
- Slightly smaller than nominate race
- A. f. vestitus (Lesson, 1843) – Sumatra, Belitung I and Borneo (except N coasts).
- Darkest upperparts, lack contrasting rump
- A. f. perplexus (Riley, 1927) – Maratua I, off E Borneo.
- Some purple sheen on rectrices and remiges, slight contrasting rump
- A. f. fuciphagus (Thunberg, 1812) – Java, Kangean Is and Bali to W Lesser Sundas (E to Sumbawa), and Tanahjampea.
- A. f. dammermani (Rensch, 1931) – Flores (EC Lesser Sundas).
- Slightly paler rump
- A. f. micans (Stresemann, 1914) – Sumba, Sawu and Timor (C Lesser Sundas).
- Slightly greyer overall with contrasting rump
Several authors believe that this species should be split into two. In that treatment, ssp amechanus and germani are named Germain’s Swiftlet, while the rest of the subspecies retain the name of Edible-nest Swiftlet. However, taxonomical evidence for splitting the species has been unconvincing to many, and this species page will treat the group as a single species under the Biological Species Concept (see Taxonomy section).
Differences amongst subspecies are often subtle and difficult to distinguish in the field due to variations in lighting as well as difficulty in observing constantly fast-moving subjects.
According to the subspecies range, Edible-nest Swiftlets observed in Singapore should be A. f. germani, but specimens collected appeared identical to the nominate race, likely because colonies in Malaysia and Singapore are of the house farmed variety (see House Farming