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22

Black-faced Woodswallow

(Artamus cinereus)
Alternate name(s): "Grey-breasted Woodswallow", "White-bellied Woodswallow", "White-vented Woodswallow"
Aboriginal name(s): Race "cinereus": "bewoen*" (WA)

Size: 18-20 cm
Weight: 32-40 g

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 Black-faced Woodswallow at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "melanops"

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a Black-faced Woodswallow (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Bowra Station, near Cunnamulla, QLD, September 2017]

Near-frontal view of a Black-faced Woodswallow
[Near Cryon, NSW, September 2017]

Lateral view of a Black-faced Woodswallow shaking its feathers
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, September 2006]

Dorsal view of a Black-faced Woodswallow
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Family of Black-faced Woodswallows
[Near Narrabri, NSW, February 2008]

Here a pair of Black-faced Woodswallows resting in a tree
[June 2011]

Black-faced Woodswallows on a dead tree; note the underwing pattern of the bird on the right; this possibly indicates that it is a hybrid
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, September 2006]

Lateral view of a Black-faced Woodswallow in flight
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Black-faced Woodswallow in a "hairpin bend"
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, September 2006]

Race "melanops", "small-masked" variety

Birds in the northern tropics tend to be browner than their cousins in the South and they have smaller facial masks.

ADULT

Near-frontal view of a Black-faced Woodswallow; note the very small black facial mask, which is basically a small triangle around the eye (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Turkey Creek Airstrip, Warmun, WA, May 2014]

Lateral view of a Black-faced Woodswallow (photo courtesy of J. Greaves)
[Turkey Creek Airstrip, Warmun, WA, May 2014]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 3 - 4 Incubation period: 14 - 16 days Fledging age: ca. 18 days

The core breeding season listed in the table above applies to the southern half of the continent. Like most species of Australian Woodswallows, Black-faced Woodswallows can in principle breed at any time of year. Their breeding season depends on geographic latitude and, especially in the semi-arid to arid interior, on seasonal conditions.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Twigs, dry grass stalks Height above ground: <2 m

Overview of the location of a Black-faced Woodswallow nest in a number of stack steel mats (photo courtesy of M. Mackay)
[Coober Pedy, SA, September 2016]

Black-faced Woodswallow feeding its chicks (photo courtesy of M. Mackay)
[Coober Pedy, SA, September 2016]

Black-faced Woodswallow chicks in their nest (photo courtesy of M. Mackay)
[Coober Pedy, SA, September 2016]

Eggs

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

Size: 22 x 17 mm Colour: Creamy, with light- to mid-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Locally nomadic Elementary unit: Small flock

We have seen Black-faced Woodswallows in a flock of about 10, executing extreme flight manouvers with very tight bends. Although a relatively small bird, one can hear the air swishing through their wing feathers in these tight bends. Their behavioural patterns are in some respects reminiscent of big raptors - they can hover in flight before diving down like falcons. In others they resemble more those of Rainbow Bee-eaters, for example when using long halms as perches for hunting in grassland.

Black-faced Woodswallows by a roadside
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Black-faced Woodswallow on a clod of soil in a fallow field
[Near Cryon, NSW, June 2012]

Food, Diet

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

Like all members of the Artamus family known to us, Black-faced Woodswallows hunt small insects which they devour in-flight. There are reports of them also feeding on nectar, which we have not seen yet.

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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