White-breasted woodswallow

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White-breasted woodswallow
Artamus leucorynchus - Wonga.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Artamidae
Genus: Artamus
Species: A. leucorynchus
Binomial name
Artamus leucorynchus
(Linnaeus, 1771)

The white-breasted woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus) is a small passerine bird which breeds from the Andaman Islands east through Indonesia and northern Australia.[1] The name "woodswallow" is a misnomer as they are not closely related to true swallows. Instead, they belong to the family Artamidae, which also includes butcherbirds, currawongs and the Australian magpie.

The species was first described by Linnaeus in 1771, its specific epithet derived from the Ancient Greek words leucos 'white', and rhynchos 'bill'.[2]


This woodswallow's soft-plumage is charcoal grey apart from the white underparts that give the species its English and scientific names, in contrast to the related great woodswallow whose upper side is a more glossy black.[3] Despite its brush-tipped tongue, usually associated with nectar feeders, it catches insects on the wing.

Natural history[edit]

This species is often seen tightly bunched together in large flocks on power lines and branches

The white-breasted woodswallow has large, pointed wings and is very agile in powered and gliding flight. This is a nomadic species, following the best conditions for flying insects, and often roosting in large flocks. The nest is a small structure built in the hollow formed by a broken branch, or in a forked branch. The normal clutch is three eggs.


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2012). "Artamus leucorynchus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2013.2. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 26 November 2013.
  2. ^ Liddell & Scott (1980). Greek-English Lexicon, Abridged Edition. Oxford University Press, Oxford, UK. ISBN 0-19-910207-4.
  3. ^ Coates, Brian J.; The Birds of Papua New Guinea Including the Bismarck Archipelago and Bougainville: Volume 2 - Passerines; pp. 373-375. ISBN 0959025715

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