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A photo of a White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor), male
White-winged Triller, Male

White-winged Triller

Lalage tricolor

The White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor) is a diminutive member of the cuckooshrike family, Campephagidae. This species exhibits sexual dimorphism, with the male donning a striking black and white breeding plumage, while the female and non-breeding male display more subdued fawn and white patterns.

Identification Tips

Adult males in breeding plumage are characterized by their contrasting black upperparts and white underparts. Outside the breeding season, males resemble females, retaining blackish feathers primarily on the wings and tail. Females are patterned similarly to males but in less conspicuous fawn and white. The species typically measures 16 to 18 cm in length.

Habitat

White-winged Trillers are commonly found in woodlands, open scrublands, and near riverbeds within the central arid zone.

Distribution

These birds are widespread across mainland Australia and may extend to northern islands, including New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. They are resident or nomadic in the warmer parts of their range and migrate to southern Australia for summer breeding.

Behaviour

During the breeding season, which spans from mid-spring to early summer, the male White-winged Triller can be observed engaging in cheerful trills and rising into fluttering song flights throughout much of the day.

Song & Calls

The male's song is a pleasant trill, often delivered during its distinctive song flight.

Breeding

The breeding season for the White-winged Triller occurs from mid-spring to early summer. Males are particularly vocal and visible during this time as they perform their courtship displays.

Similar Species

The White-winged Triller has a close northern relative, the White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii) of eastern Indonesia. Some authorities consider these two to be races of a single species, which would result in the White-winged Triller being reclassified as Lalage sueurii tricolor.

Diet and Feeding

These birds have a varied diet consisting of insects, which they capture on the ground, from foliage, or in the air.

Conservation status

The White-winged Triller is currently listed as Least Concern on the IUCN Red List, indicating that it is not at immediate risk of widespread decline.

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