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White-breasted Woodswallow - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: White-breasted Swallow-Shrike; White-rumped Woodswallow; Lesser Woodswallow

Photo © by Romy Ocon
Bondoc Peninsula, Quezon Province, Philippines
Artamus leucorynchus


18.5cm (7¼ in)

  • Dark slaty grey to blackish-grey or dark brownish grey head, chin, throat and upperparts
  • White rump and uppertail-coverts
  • Blackish tail (without white terminal tail-band like Ashy Woodswallow)
  • White to creamy-white underparts
  • Dark brown eye
  • Pale blue-grey bill with black tip

Sexes similar. Juveniles are more dark brownish with pale feather tips above and sometimes washed light buff underparts.
The subspecies differ mainly in the darkness of the upperparts.

Similar species

Great Woodswallow of New Guinea is bigger, darker and has a diagnostic white patch on the inner leading of the wing.


Photo © by tcollins
Darwin, Australia,June 2006

From the Andaman Islands east through peninsular Malaysia, Sumatra, Borneo, Java, the Philippines and New Guinea to northern and eastern Australia and to New Caledonia.
Widespread and locally common.


May form a superspecies with Ivory-backed Woodswallow, Great Woodswallow and Bismarck Woodswallow.


Photo © by obasanmi
Manado, Sulawesi, June 2016

Nine subspecies are recognized[1]:


Common, from open country to clearings at forest edge up to 500m, sometimes up to 1500m. Often seen near habitation, also attends herds of water buffalo or cattle.


Photo © by Ken Doy
Sandy Camp Road Wetlands, Brisbane, Queensland, March 2020


Feeds on insects which are caught on the wing.
Often seen perched before hunting. Forages singly or in small groups.


Co-operative breeding recorded. the nest is a cup made of sticks and grass. It's placed in a tree fork, a hollow branch or in an artifical structure (eg fence post). Lays 3 - 4 eggs.


A mainly resident species. In parts of its range nomadic and some north-south migratory movements recorded in Australia.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672
  3. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507

Recommended Citation

External Links

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