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22

White-browed Woodswallow

(Artamus superciliosus)
Alternate name(s): "Blue Martin", "Skimmer*", "Summerbird*", "Martin*"
Size: 19-20 cm
Weight: 30-41 g
Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See White-browed Woodswallow at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

Close-up frontal view of a male White-browed Woodswallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

Frontal view of a male White-browed Woodswallow spreading its wings, giving a good view of its underwing plumage
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Near-frontal view of a male White-browed Woodswallow
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Near-frontal view of a male White-browed Woodswallow calling
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Near-lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow in flight
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Cutout from a larger photo of a mixed flock of White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows; click on image to see the full field-of-view (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Frontal view of a pair of White-browed Woodswallows; female on the left, male on the right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

FEMALE

Lateral view of a male White-browed Woodswallow (left back) and a female (front right)
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Lateral view of a female White-browed Woodswallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, December 2008]

This photo of a female may indicate that White-browed Woodswallows can raise their "hackles" (throat feathers)
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Small flock of White-browed Woodswallows (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Dorsal view of a juvenile White-browed Woodswallow (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, NSW, November 2013]

Frontal view of a fledgling White-browed Woodswallow (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2018]

Hybrid Masked/White-browed Woodswallow(?)

Frontal view of a possible hybrid between Masked Woodswallow and White-browed Woodswallow
(photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Oolambeyan NP, near Hay, NSW, November 2012]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Aug - Dec Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: ? Fledging age: ?

Given the right conditions, White-browed Woodswallows can breed at any time of the year.

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Sticks, with grass and/or other soft lining Height above ground: 0.5 - 3 m

White-browed Woodswallows are known to sometimes re-use mud nests of Magpie-larks.

White-browed Woodswallow hatchling in its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2017]

Hatchlings in a "conventional" White-browed Woodswallow nest behind a semi-detached piece of bark (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Baradine/Coonamble area, NSW, 1980ies]

"Avant garde" White-browed Woodswallow nest in a rain gauge (photo courtesy of D. Johnston)
[Baradine to Coonamble road, NSW, 1980ies]

Close-up view of a male White-browed Woodswallow on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2017]

Female White-browed Woodswallow looking around in a casuarina tree for suitable nest material; this is one of the birds whose calls were recorded on 2 December 2015
[Capertee Valley, NSW, December 2015]

It promptly found something that had just the right properties...
[Capertee Valley, NSW, December 2015]

... and carried it off to its nest in a dead eucalypt
[Capertee Valley, NSW, December 2015]

Eggs

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

Size: 21 x 16 mm Colour: Light-brown, with dark-brown speckles Shape: Tapered oval

White-browed Woodswallow nest with two eggs inside (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, December 2017]

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal Mobility: Migratory Elementary unit: Large flock

White-browed Woodswallows are regularly seen in mixed flocks with Masked Woodswallows.

Mixed flock of White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows perched in a group of Acacia salicina
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

All four possible morphologies of adult White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows seen together: pair of White-browed Woodswallows, male at the top centre, female below, together with a male Masked Woodswallow, left, and a female Masked Woodswallow, right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

Male White-browed Woodswallow, top, with a female below, together with a male Masked Woodswallow, bottom right
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

We have seen a flock of White-browed Woodswallow on the ground, presumably foraging, see photo below.

White-browed Woodswallows on a paddock
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, March 2006]

This female White-browed Woodswallow was seen calling out and signalling... (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, NSW, November 2013]

... thereby attracting a male (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, NSW, November 2013]

The competition came too late (photo courtesy of R. Druce)
[Leard State Forest, NSW, November 2013]

Food, Diet

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

Like all members of the Artamus family known to us, hunt small insects which they usually devour in-flight. We have also seen them feed on nectar (see below).

White-browed Woodswallow with its catch, a flying insect
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Part of a mixed flock of (both adult and immature) White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows seen by us descending onto (and foraging on?) a dry paddock shortly after rainfall
[Eulah Creek, NSW, February 2014]

Male White-browed Woodswallow feasting on the nectar of a Grevillea robusta
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

Male White-browed Woodswallow feasting on the nectar of a Grevillea robusta
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

Female White-browed Woodswallow and male Masked Woodswallow in a Grevillea robusta
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows festing on nectar low in a in a Grevillea robusta
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

in a Grevillea robusta with a flock of White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows festing on its nectar (click on image for high-resolution version to see the many individual birds)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

This family of White-browed Woodswallows (adults below, juveniles above) came for a drink from our ornamental pond on a 45 C "stinker"
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

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.

wbrowsw_20171221_5.m4a (NW NSW) Contact call © MD
wbrowsw_20151202_2.m4a (W NSW) Contact call © MD
wbrowsw_20151202.m4a (W NSW) Contact calls © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_7.m4a (NW NSW) Contact call (Q&A) © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_4.m4a (NW NSW) Warning calls © MD
wbrowsw_20151202_3.m4a (W NSW) Alarm calls © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_3.m4a (NW NSW) Departure © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_6.m4a (NW NSW) Various © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_8.m4a (NW NSW) Various © MD
wbrowsw_20171221.m4a (NW NSW) Various (flock in-flight) [+cat] © MD
wbrowsw_20150916.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (flock in-flight) © MD
wbrowsw_20171221_2.m4a (NW NSW) Various (flock in-flight departing) © MD
mixwood_20150916.mp3 (NW NSW) Mixed flock with Masked Woodswallows © MD
mixwood_20180908_1.m4a (NW NSW) Large mixed flock with Masked Woodswallows © MD
mixwood_20180908_2.m4a (NW NSW) Large mixed flock with Masked Woodswallows © MD

We have recorded the calls of a mixed flock of ca. 200 White-browed Woodswallows and Masked Woodswallows raiding a flowering Grevillea robusta ("Silky Oak") tree.

woodsw_20181029.m4a (NW NSW) Flock feeding on nectar © MD
woodsw_20181029_2.m4a (NW NSW) Flock feeding on nectar © 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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