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22

White-browed Woodswallow

(Artamus superciliosus)
Alternate name(s): "Blue Martin", "Skimmer*", "Summerbird*", "Martin*"
Size: 19-20 cm
Weight: 37 g (average)
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 (left back) and a female (front right)
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

Male White-browed Woodswallow issuing a warning call
[Near Maules Creek, NSW, December 2013]

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]

This photo seems to indicate that male White-browed Woodswallows can raise their "hackles" (throat feathers)
[Between Walgett and Bourke, NSW, September 2012]

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)

FEMALE

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

Female White-browed Woodswallow in a tree returning to its nest
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW, 2005]

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

Comparison of a male Masked Woodswallow (lower right) with a female White-browed Woodswallow
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

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

Hybrid Masked/White-browed Woodswallow(?)

Frontal view of a possible hybrid between Masked Woodswallow and White-browed Woodswallow (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)

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 mudnests of Magpie-larks.

"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]

Little White-browed Woodswallow begging for food...
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW, 2005]

... now together with its equally hungry sibling
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW, 2005]

Here is mom White-browed Woodswallow back on the nest
[Warrumbungle NP, NSW, 2005]

White-browed Woodswallow peeking into its nesting hollow in a dead tree standing in water (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Gwydir Wetlands, near Moree, NSW, November 2012]

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

Behaviour

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

White-browed Woodswallows are regularly seen in mixed flocks with Masked Woodswallows, but have also been observed by us together with smaller numbers of Fork-tailed Swifts.

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. There are reports of them also feeding on nectar, which we have not seen yet.

White-browed Woodswallow with its catch
[Yarrie Lake, NSW, December 2013]

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]

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_20151202_2.mp3 (W NSW) Contact calls © MD
wbrowsw_20151202.mp3 (W NSW) Alarm calls(?) © MD
wbrowsw_20150916.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (flock in-flight) © MD
mixwood_20150916.mp3 (NW NSW) Mixed flock with Masked Woodswallows © 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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