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A photo of a Dusky Woodswallow (Artamus cyanopterus)
Dusky Woodswallow

Dusky Woodswallow

Artamus cyanopterus

The dusky woodswallow, Artamus cyanopterus, presents a medium-sized, swallow-like silhouette adorned with a dark brown plumage that may sometimes appear grey. A distinctive black patch is noted before the eyes, and the wings are grey, occasionally black, with white streaks. The tail is black with a white tip, and the underwing shimmers silver. A blue-grey bill, tipped with black, completes their visage.

Identification Tips

Look for the dusky woodswallow's fervent tail 'wagging' or swiveling, a behavior shared with its woodswallow kin. The species can be distinguished by a unique white patch on the outer wing and a more smoky brown coloration compared to other woodswallows.

Habitat

These birds favor open eucalyptus forests and woodlands, where they roost communally, often nocturnally, and in large flocks during the breeding season for added protection against predators.

Distribution

The dusky woodswallow's range extends from the Atherton Tableland in Queensland, down to Tasmania, and west to the Eyre Peninsula in South Australia.

Behaviour

As nomadic birds, dusky woodswallows exhibit spontaneous movements, with south-eastern populations migrating northward in Autumn. They communicate with a variety of chattering calls, including a harsh mobbing call to alert others of predators or intruders.

Song & Calls

The dusky woodswallow's vocal repertoire includes various chattering sounds, with a particularly harsh call used for mobbing predators.

Breeding

Nests are artfully constructed from twigs, roots, and foliage into a bowl shape, lined with grass, and are often positioned behind bark or high in a tree branch. The breeding season spans from August to January, with the female laying up to four white eggs. Incubation lasts for sixteen days, and fledglings take a similar time to mature.

Similar Species

The little woodswallow shares a smoky brown hue with the dusky woodswallow but lacks the distinctive white patch on the outer wing.

Diet and Feeding

Dusky woodswallows have a varied diet, consuming foliage, grassy material, termites, butterflies, other insects, and nectar from flowers. They exhibit aerial hunting prowess, capturing flying insects on the wing, and also feed on the ground, often from inconspicuous perches.

Conservation status

With a broad range and an unquantified but presumed common population, the dusky woodswallow is classified as 'Least Concern' on the IUCN Red List.

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Dusky Woodswallows on Birda

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A photo of a Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus)

Black-faced Woodswallow

Artamus cinereus
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