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22

White-winged Triller

(Lalage tricolor [sueurii])
Alternate name(s): "White-shouldered Caterpillar-eater", "Peewee-lark"
Aboriginal name(s): "koomolkolong" (WA)

Size: 16-19 cm
Weight: 20-32 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 White-winged Triller at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

ADULT

MALE

BREEDING

Frontal portrait of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Frontal portrait of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage; a few remaining grey-brown feathers are still visible on the crown
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Frontal view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

Near-frontal view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Lateral view of the same White-winged Triller as shown above
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Close-up lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage, hunting for insects
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage in grassland (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, November 2013]

This is the male White-winged Triller whose calls were recorded on 18 November 2014
[Near Narrabri, NSW, November 2014]

Dorsal view of a male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2008]

Male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage marking its territory - this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 26 October 2016
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2016]

Male White-winged Triller in breeding plumage marking its territory; more lateral view - this is the bird whose calls were recorded on 26 October 2016
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2016]

NON-BREEDING

Frontal view of a male White-winged Triller in transitional plumage; the leading edges of the wings are already black, but the head has not moulted yet
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Frontal view of a male White-winged Triller in transitional plumage; nothing distinguishes it from full breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Near-lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in transitional plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller moulting into breeding plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Frontal view of a male White-winged Triller in transitory (mostly non-breeding) plumage

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in non-breeding plumage
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2007]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in transitory (mostly non-breeding) plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Triller in transitory (mostly non-breeding) plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Dorsal view of a male White-winged Triller in transitory (mostly non-breeding) plumage
[Eulah Creek, NSW, August 2017]

Near-dorsal view of a male White-winged Triller in non-breeding plumage (photo P. Brown)
[Bird Billabong Road, off Arnhem Highway, NT, July 2018]

Lateral view of a male White-winged Triller in non-breeding plumage taking off (photo P. Brown)
[Bird Billabong Road, off Arnhem Highway, NT, July 2018]

FEMALE

Frontal portrait of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Frontal view of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Frontal/ventral view of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

Near-frontal view of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Near-lateral portrait of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral portrait of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Close-up lateral view of a female White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Triller carrying food for its chick; note the barring on flank and shoulder
(photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2018]

Lateral view of a female White-winged Triller in an Acacia salicina tree
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Note the strong barring on the flanks of this female White-winged Triller
[Near Bugilbone, NSW, November 2017]

Ventral view of a female White-winged Triller
[Near Narrabri, NSW, October 2014]

Pair of White-winged Trillers in a paddock, foraging on the ground; the male is seen at the lower left
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, October 2006]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature male White-winged Triller; note the dark cap and the absence of a visible supercilium
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Lateral view of an immature male White-winged Triller (photo taken through a fence)
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Lateral view of an immature male White-winged Triller; note the dark cap and the absence of a visible supercilium
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Ventral view of an immature male White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2018]

Frontal view of a juvenile White-winged Triller
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2007]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile White-winged Triller (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Buffalo Creek, Darwin, NT, September 2018]

Lateral view of a juvenile White-winged Triller
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2007]

Lateral view of a juvenile White-winged Triller
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Lateral view of what looks like a juvenile White-winged Triller
[Eulah Creek, NSW, March 2008]

Juvenile White-winged Triller on a fence; this bird was waiting to be fed by its parents
[20 km South of Narrabri, NSW, 2006]

Juvenile White-winged Triller (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)
[Near Moree, NSW, January 2011]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Sep - Feb Eggs: 2 - 3 Incubation period: 14 days Fledging age: 13 - 15 days

The breeding season of White-winged Trillers depends significantly on geographical latitude. In the tropical North they may breed at the end of the wet season. Given the right conditions White-winged Trillers can breed any time of the year.

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

Nest

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

Type: Basket Material: Grass, rootlets, webs Height above ground: 2 - 10 m

White-winged Triller nests found by us are different compared to what is described in field guides in several respects: They are not always placed on a fork, they are not always as shallow as reported in field guides, and they can be well-hidden in dense foliage, rather than in the open on a fork of a dead branch.

White-winged Triller hatchling in its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2018]

Male White-winged Triller on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2018]

Female White-winged Triller on its nest (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Doctors Flat Road, Ensay, East Gippsland, VIC, January 2018]

View from below of a White-winged Triller nest in a rough-barked Acacia salicina tree; this nest was constructed under the "umbrella" of a Magpie-lark nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Female White-winged Triller working on its well-hidden nest, with the male in attendance
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Male White-winged Triller helping with the construction of the nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2016]

Male White-winged Triller "harvesting" a spider's web for use in binding its nest
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2011]

Eggs

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

Size: 21 x 15 mm Colour: Light-brown, with many large dark-brown patches Shape: Tapered oval

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Communal/territorial Mobility: N sedentary, S migratory Elementary unit: Solitary/pair

Male White-winged Trillers use vantage points to issue their calls so as to be heard from afar. Obviously, they cannot do this all day long, but need to feed in the meantime. While feeding they also intersperse periods of singing, see photos below.

White-winged Trillers are semi-colonial breeders. Several pairs can nest close to each other, but they have separate territories for foraging. However, we have also observed both males and females of different pairs forage together in a small area during the breeding season.

White-winged Triller singing from a high vantage point; this is a point where the bird sits purely to be heard
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Here the same White-winged Triller as above is foraging for insects in a black pine tree, but also puts in some more effort into attracting a female
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2011]

Male White-winged Triller spreading its wings while taking a shower
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Male White-winged Triller having a shower under a garden sprinkler, raising its mantle and rump feathers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Male White-winged Triller raising its mantle and rump feathers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, January 2014]

Food, Diet

White-winged Trillers usually hunt insects in flight, but will take them from foliage or the ground as well.

Female White-winged Triller with its prey, a larva
[Eulah Creek, NSW, September 2015]

Female White-winged Triller with its prey, a grasshopper
[Near Narrabri, NSW, September 2018]

This female White-winged Triller was seen foraging in a Calistemon (bottlebrush) tree together with at least two males
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2015]

White-winged Triller taking nectar from a flower... (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Leanyer, Darwin, NT, July 2018]

... and feeling quite possessive about it (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Leanyer, Darwin, NT, July 2018]

Female White-winged Triller looking for prey in a flowering Grevillea robusta
[Eulah Creek, NSW, October 2018]

This male White-winged Triller appears to be taking nectar from a flowering Grevillea robusta, rather than insects visiting the flowers
[Eulah Creek, NSW, November 2018]

Male White-winged Triller drinking by taking droplets from grass
[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.

wwtrill_20161026_2.m4a (NW NSW) Territorial call (male) © MD
wwtrill_20161026_4.m4a (NW NSW) Territorial calls (male) © MD
wwtrill_20161026_3.m4a (NW NSW) Territorial calls (male) © MD
wwtrill_20141118_2.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial call (male) © MD
wwtrill_20161026.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial calls (male)
(with background)
© MD
wwtrill_20150913.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial call (2 males) © MD
wwtrill_20150911.mp3 (NW NSW) Territorial calls (2 males) © MD
wwtrill_20140303.mp3 (NW NSW) Various (male) © MD
wwtrill_20141006.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © MD
wwtrill_20141119.mp3 (NW NSW) ? © 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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