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22

Dusky Woodswallow

(Artamus cyanopterus)
Alternate name(s): "Sordid Wood-swallow", "Jacky Martin", "Bee-bird", "Bluey", "Martin*", "Skimmer*"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "cyanopterus": "bewoen*", "wol", "booan" (WA)

Size: 17-18 cm
Weight: 35 g (average)

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Dusky Woodswallow at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "cyanopterus"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Dusky Woodswallow
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2008]

Near-frontal view of a Dusky Woodswallow; this is one of the birds whose calls were recorded on 1 December 2015
[Putta Bucca Wetlands, Mudgee, NSW, March 2015]

Dusky Woodswallow checking out the photographer
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, August 2008]

Lateral view of a Dusky Woodswallow hanging off the bark of a dead ironbark eucalypt; the bird was happy to stay like this for many minutes
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, April 2009]

Lateral view of a Dusky Woodswallow (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Near Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, May 2014]

Dusky Woodswallow in-flight seen from underneath; this is one bird in a small flock seen by us on a cold morning in the middle of winter
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, July 2016]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Dusky Woodswallow
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2008]

Frontal view of an adult, left, and a juvenile, right, Dusky Woodswallow (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2014]

Near-frontal view of a very young, probably juvenile, Dusky Woodswallow
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, March 2008]

Lateral view of a juvenile Dusky Woodswallow with its tail fanned (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2014]

Lateral view of a juvenile Dusky Woodswallow (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Terry Hie Hie, NSW, November 2013]

Two juvenile Dusky Woodswallows on a low perch (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2014]

Race "perthi"

ADULT

Frontal view of a Dusky Woodswallow (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wooloroo Regional Park, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Dusky Woodswallows huddling together (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Wooloroo Regional Park, Perth, WA, August 2015]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: ? Fledging age: ?

Given the right conditions (e.g. absence of frost), Dusky Woodswallows can breed almost all year round.

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, with soft lining Height above ground: 5 - ? m

Here the unattended nest of a pair of Dusky Woodswallows in a stunted fork; without the birds' activities it would certainly have gone unnoticed
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2011]

Even with a Dusky Woodswallow incubating, the nest is very inconspicuous
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2011]

Here a "change of the guard", which attracted the observer's attention to the Dusky Woodswallow nest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2011]

The nest itself is barely visible, but the dark patch sitting on the trunk of this mistletoe is the nesting place chosen by a pair of Dusky Woodswallows
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, November 2008]

Dusky Woodswallows sometimes also nest in big forks; here the bird is on the nest...
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2014]

... here the Dusky Woodswallow is off the nest
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2014]

Dusky Woodswallow transporting nesting material
[Near Wee Waa, NSW, November 2016]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 24 x 17 mm Colour: Light-brown, with brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory in SE, sedentary in SW Elementary unit: Small flock

Like some other species of woodswallows (and some other species as well), Dusky Woodswallows like to huddle together closely.

Small flock of Dusky Woodswallows clustering in a tree top; photo taken in difficult light conditions
[Pilliga scrub, NSW, May 2011]

Dusky Woodswallows are also known for wagging their tails sideways. While we have not documented the tail wag, the same motion comes into action when they are stretching, see photos below.

Dusky Woodswallow stretching, first to the right, then to the left
[Deriah Aboriginal Area, NSW, May 2013]

Dusky Woodswallows like to perch prominently on the ends of dead branches; this is the bird whose call was recorded on 2 April 2014
[Mt. Kaputar NP, NSW, April 2014]

Food, Diet

Adults: Small insects Dependents: As adults Water intake: Daily(?)

Like all members of the Artamus family known to us, Dusky Woodswallows hunt small insects which they devour in-flight.

Dusky Woodswallow approaching its nest with a load of insects
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, April 2006]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

dwoodsw_20160727.mp3 cyanopterus
(W NSW)
Contact call(?) © MD
dwoodsw_20151201_2.mp3 cyanopterus
(W NSW)
Territorial calls(?) © MD
dwoodsw_20160727_4.mp3 cyanopterus
(W NSW)
Warning call(?) © MD
dwoodsw_20140402_2.mp3 cyanopterus
(NW NSW)
Alarm call (White-bellied Cuckoo-shrike) © MD
dwoodsw_20151201_3.mp3 cyanopterus
(W NSW)
Annoyed calls © MD
dwoodsw_20151201.mp3 cyanopterus
(W NSW)
Annoyed calls © MD
dwoodsw_20140130.mp3 cyanopterus
(NW NSW)
Pair + begging juveniles © MD
dwoodsw_20140130_2.mp3 cyanopterus
(NW NSW)
Pair + begging juveniles © MD
dwoodsw_20141119.mp3 cyanopterus
(NW NSW)
? (Sitting on nest) © MD

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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If interested, please CLICK HERE. Credits to contributors are given HERE.