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Dusky woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)
Scientific classification e
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Artamidae
Subfamily: Artaminae
C. G. Sibley & J. A. Ahlquist, 1990
Genus: Artamus
Vieillot, 1816

11, see text

Woodswallows are soft-plumaged, somber-coloured passerine birds in the genus Artamus. The woodswallows are either treated as a subfamily, Artaminae, in an expanded family Artamidae (also including the subfamily Cracticinae), or as the only genus in that family (with the butcherbirds, currawongs, and allies placed in a separate family, Cracticidae). The generic name, which in turn gives rise to the family name, is derived from the Ancient Greek artamos, meaning butcher or murder. The name was given due to their perceived similarity to shrikes. A former common name for the group was "swallow-starlings".[1]

The woodswallows have an Australasian distribution, with most species occurring in Australia and New Guinea. The ashy woodswallow has an exclusively Asian distribution, ranging from India and Sri Lanka through South East Asia to China, and the most widespread species is the white-breasted woodswallow, which ranges from Peninsular Malaysia through to Australia in the south and Vanuatu and New Caledonia. The group reaches the easternmost extent of its distribution in Fiji with the endemic Fiji woodswallow.[1]

The nasal opening is small and circular

Woodswallows are smooth, agile flyers with moderately large, semi-triangular wings. They are among the very few passerines birds that soar, and can often be seen feeding just above the treetops. One sedentary species aside, they are nomads, following the best conditions for flying insects, and often roosting in large flocks.

Although woodswallows have a brush-tipped tongue they seldom use it for gathering nectar.

The nests of woodswallows are loosely constructed from fine twigs, and both parents help rear the young.[2]

Species of Artamus[edit]

Species of Artamus
Common and binomial names Image Description Range
Ashy woodswallow
(Artamus fuscus)
Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus) at Jayanti, Duars, West Bengal W IMG 5285.jpg
Fiji woodswallow
(Artamus mentalis)
Ivory-backed woodswallow
(Artamus monachus)
Great woodswallow
(Artamus maximus)
Great Woodswallow.jpg
White-breasted woodswallow
(Artamus leucorynchus)
Artamus leucorynchus - Wonga.jpg
White-backed woodswallow
(Artamus insignis)
Masked woodswallow
(Artamus personatus)
White-browed woodswallow
(Artamus superciliosus)
White-browed Woodswallow Samcem.JPG
Black-faced woodswallow
(Artamus cinereus)
Black-faced Woodswallow Newhaven.JPG
Dusky woodswallow
(Artamus cyanopterus)
Artamus cyanopterus.jpg
Little woodswallow
(Artamus minor)
Little Woodswallow Bowra.JPG


  1. ^ a b Rowley, Ian; Russell, Eleanor (2009). "Family Artamidae (Woodswallows)". In del Hoyo, Josep; Elliott, Andrew; Christie, David (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 286–307. ISBN 978-84-96553-50-7.CS1 maint: uses editors parameter (link)
  2. ^ Howley, Ian (1991). Forshaw, Joseph (ed.). Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 226–227. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.

External links[edit]