White-breasted Woodswallow Click to enlarge image
White-breasted Woodswallow Image: Cua Trok
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    17 cm to 18 cm

Although woodswallows have bifurcated (divided) tongues that are adapted for nectar feeding, they tend to feed mainly on insects.


The White-breasted Woodswallow is a medium-sized bird with a dark blue-grey head and neck. It has dark blue-grey upperparts, tail and wings, white white underparts and underwings. The bill is bluish, tipped black and the eye is dark brown. Young birds tend to be mottled brown on the upperparts with a creamy tinge to the white undeparts and have a thin cream eyebrow.


The White-breasted Woodswallow is found in eucalypt forests and woodlands, usually close to water, and in mangroves.


The White-breasted Woodswallow is found from northern coastal Western Australia, across the Kimberley region into the Northern Territory, and through most of Queensland, New South Wales (but not on the south coast), western Victoria and north-eastern South Australia. It is also found from New Guinea to Fiji and the Philippines.


Nomadic; partially migratory in the south of its range, moving north during autumn and south during spring.

Feeding and diet

The White-breasted Woodswallow feeds on insects, catching them on the wing. Will also forage on the ground or in canopy. Like other woodswallows, this species has a divided, brush-tipped tongue that can be used to feed on nectar from flowers.

Other behaviours and adaptations

This species can be seen in flocks of 10 to 50, even up to 100, birds. These flocks may cluster together day or night in roosts.


Brassy chirps: 'pirrt, pirrt'; loud chattering and quiet twittering; some mimicry.

Breeding behaviours

The White-breasted Woodswallow builds a shallow, bowl-shaped nest from grasses, roots and twigs, lined with fine grass. The nest is placed in a tree fork, hollow stump or inside the abandoned nest of a Magpie-lark, 4 m - 30 m off the ground. Both sexes build the nest, incubate the eggs and feed the young.

  • Breeding Season: August to January; after rain in dry areas.

Artamus leucorhynchus (Linnaeus, 1771). White-breasted Woodswallow. Egg.
Scanned image of 35mm slide - egg reference collection Image: Maurice Ortega
© Australian Museum