Great Swallow-tailed Swift is restricted to montane regions from Nayarit, Mexico south to southern Honduras. It generally occurs in highlands, from 1000-2000 m, over fairly undisturbed and rocky terrain. It is highly acrobatic and will cruise over mountainous slopes at high speeds, often with spectacular plunges and sharp turns. Great Swallow-tailed Swift is very distinctive, generally being the only white-throated black swift with a deeply forked tail above 1000 m; but compare this species carefully to its smaller congener, Lesser Swallow-tailed Swift (Panyptila cayennensis), with which it may co-occur locally. Previously Great Swallow-tailed Swift was known as San Geronimo Swift, after the type locality in Guatemala.