Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-breasted Woodswallow

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) by Ian

Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-breasted Woodswallow ~ by Ian Montgomery

Newsletter ~ 07-28-10

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) by Ian

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) by Ian

Some species are a source of continual pleasure even when they are very common, such as the White-breasted Woodswallow, which is to be seen daily in Northeastern Queensland, perching conspicuously on power-lines or trees and chasing insects, swallow-like, in small flocks. They are attractive birds, fun to watch and courageous, frequently mobbing raptors.

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) by Ian

White-breasted Woodswallows “hanging out” by Ian

Woodswallows get their name from a superficial similarity to true swallows, though in flight they are stockier and lack forked tails as in the second photo. They aren’t related to swallows and form a family, the Artamidae, with the larger more crow-like Australian Magpie, Butcherbirds and Currawongs. The White-breasted Woodswallow is widespread through eastern and northern Australia and is resident in northern coastal areas but migratory or nomadic in other parts of its range.

They are sociable birds, as can be seen in the third photo, and often roost together in large numbers. The fourth photo shows a roost on power-lines near a set of traffic lights on a busy Townsville intersection. When I took the photo, at dusk, about 200 birds were present and the one looking down towards the camera had just elbowed its way into the middle of the row after landing on birds already in place.

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) by Ian

White-breasted Woodswallow “Squeezed in” by Ian

Back at the website, the ‘Current Picks’ (Australian, New World, Old World and Other Wildlife) are:
Shy Albatross
Purple Honeycreeper
and Platypus

I’ve reformatted the Image Purchases page and published a scale of prices for digital images for the conservation- and/or education-related projects that account for most of the Birdway business: http://www.birdway.com.au/printpurchases.htm

Best wishes,

Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,
454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818
Phone: +61-7 4751 3115
Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au
Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

Love that last photo, Ian! Can they breathe?  :)

As Ian said, the Woodswallows belong to the Artamidae Family. There are 11 members and they live mainly in Australia and New Zealand. They are part of the Passeriformes Order and “they are among the very few passerines birds that soar, and can often be seen feeding just above the treetops.”

“The woodswallows have an Australasian distribution, with most species occurring in Australia and New Guinea. The Ashy Woodswallow has an exclusively Asian distribution, ranging from India and Sri Lanka through South East Asia to China, and the most widespread species is the White-breasted Woodswallow, which ranges from Peninsular Malaysia through to Australia in the south and Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The group reaches the easternmost extent of its distribution in Fiji with the endemic Fiji Woodswallow.” (Wikipedia)

Even the sparrow has found a home, And the swallow a nest for herself, Where she may lay her young— Even Your altars, O LORD of hosts, My King and my God. (Psalms 84:3 NKJV)


Ian’s Birds of the Week


One thought on “Ian’s Bird of the Week – White-breasted Woodswallow

  1. Beautiful shot. I was looking for the name of a white breasted bird for my poem about the sacrifice of Clytemnestra’s daughter, “her throat like a white-breasted woodswillow.” Not sure if I’ll use it because throat and breast don’t go, but I enjoyed the photograph.


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