White-winged Triller Click to enlarge image
White-winged Triller Image: David Cook
creative commons

Fast Facts

  • Classification
  • Size Range
    17 cm to 19 cm

Like other members of the Family Campephagidae, White-winged Trillers have an undulating flight and often shuffle re-fold their wings after landing on a branch.


The White-winged Triller is a small, compact bird with a short slender bill, long wings and a rather long tail with a rounded tip. In breeding plumage, the male and female are quite different. The breeding male is black above, on the head and body and wing coverts, and white below, on the lower face, body and under-wings. There is a wide white shoulder bar. Non-breeding males are brown with light underparts and a faint pale brow and dark line through the eye. The female is similar, though the male has a greyer rump. All birds have a netted pattern on the wings - black and white on the breeding male and dark brown to light brown in the eclipse plumage (non-breeding) male and the female.

AMS405/242  White-winged Triller nest

White-winged Triller nest

Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum


The White-winged Triller is found in open woodlands and forest, tree-lined waterways in semi-arid regions and the nearby scrub. This is mainly lightly timbered country with an open shrub layer and grassy ground-cover.


The White-winged Triller is found all over the Australian mainland but is more common in the south-east, the far north of Northern Territory and in the Kimberleys and the west of Western Australia. There are casual sightings in northern Tasmania.


The White-winged Triller is a breeding migrant to southern Australia in summer (August to March). It overwinters in the inland and northern Australia and may also do so in Papua New Guinea and Indonesia. It is seen in the north throughout the year.

Feeding and diet

The White-winged Triller forages busily for insects on the foliage of high trees and also 'hawks' insects in the air. It hunts from a high perch, chasing flying insects.It also feeds on the ground, eating mainly insects, and fruit, seeds and occasionally nectar.


Descending 'chiff-chiff-joey-joey-joey'. Very noisy during the breeding season, mainly calling in flight.

AMS405/242  White-winged Triller male

White-winged Triller male

Image: Jack Purnell
© Australian Museum

Breeding behaviours

White-winged Trillers build small nests on horizontal branches or forks. The nest is a small frail cup of bark, grasses and fine material, bound with spiders' web. They sometimes use the empty nests of other birds, favouring the mud nests of Magpie-larks. They will breed in colonies, with many nests in one tree. Both parents incubate and brood the nestlings.

  • Breeding Season: September to December
  • Clutch size: Two to three.
  • Incubation: 14 days
  • Time in nest: 12 days


  • Pizzey, G. and Knight, F. 1997. Field Guide to the Birds of Australia. Angus and Robertson, Sydney.
  • Morcombe, M. 2000. Field guide to Australian Birds. Steve Parish Publishing.
  • Simpson, K and Day, N. 1999. Field guide to the birds of Australia, 6th Edition.Penguin Books, Australia.
  • Higgins, P.J., Peter, J.M. and Cowling, S.J. (eds) 2006. Handbook of Australian, New Zealand and Antarctic Birds, Volume 7 (Boatbill to Starlings) Part A. Oxford University Press. Melbourne.