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A photo of a Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus)
Ashy Woodswallow

Ashy Woodswallow

Artamus fuscus

The Ashy Woodswallow, Artamus fuscus, also known as the Ashy Swallow-shrike, is a robust bird with a distinctive ashy grey plumage. Its darker head contrasts with a narrow pale band on the rump, while the underside is a soft pinkish grey. The tail is short, slaty black, and tipped with white. A silvery finch-like bill and long wings with a broad base give it a triangular silhouette in flight. The legs are short, and there is no variation in plumage across its range, nor are there any subspecies.

Identification Tips

In the field, males and females appear identical, though an old report suggests a difference in the coloration inside the mouth. Juveniles can be identified by barring on the underside. When perched, the bird's long wings and short tail are noticeable, as is the white tip on the tail.

Habitat

The Ashy Woodswallow can be found from the plains up to elevations of 2000 meters, frequenting cultivated areas, forest clearings, and particularly areas with tall palm trees.

Distribution

This species is widely distributed across South Asia, including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, Malaysia, and China. It is notably absent from the arid regions of western India and has been recorded in the Maldives.

Behaviour

Ashy Woodswallows are gregarious, often seen huddled together on bare branches or perched on high vantage points like powerlines. They exhibit aerial hunting, capturing insects mid-flight and sometimes feeding on the ground or visiting bird baths. They may also consume nectar and toxic butterflies. Seasonal movements have been noted, possibly in response to rainfall patterns.

Song & Calls

The song of the Ashy Woodswallow is a mix of wheezy notes, sometimes mimicking other birds. Its call is a shrill, nasal "chewk."

Breeding

Breeding occurs from March to June in India. Nests are shallow cups placed high, such as in palm fronds or atop lighting posts, with 2-3 greenish white eggs spotted with brown. Both parents are involved in all aspects of rearing the young, and they are known to aggressively defend their nests from potential threats.

Similar Species

There are no similar species mentioned in the provided content.

Diet and Feeding

The diet primarily consists of insects, but they may also feed on nectar and toxic butterflies. They exhibit unique feeding behaviors, such as catching prey in their beak and transferring it to their feet to tear apart.

Conservation status

The Ashy Woodswallow is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating it is not at immediate risk of population decline.

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