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Woodswallows: Artamidae

Dusky Woodswallow (artamus Cyanopterus): Species Account

Physical characteristics: Dusky woodswallows are medium-sized, swallow-like birds that have a smoky blue to smoky brown body; small patch of black in the front of the eyes; dark gray to blackish wings with a white leading edge; dark gray to blackish tail with distinctive white spots at the end; and silvery underwings. The bill is short and pale blue with a black tip. Adults are 6.7 to 7.1 inches (17 to 18 centimeters) long and weigh between 1.1 and 1.6 ounces (31 and 46 grams).

Geographic range: Dusky woodswallows are found in Australia, specifically the eastern and southern portions of the country. They migrate northward for the winter.

Habitat: Dusky woodswallows inhabit open eucalyptus (yoo-kah-LIP-tus) forests (those consisting of tall, aromatic trees) and woodlands, along water courses, and over natural clearings. They especially like rural areas and wet climates.

Diet: Their diet consists of insects, foliage, and nectar. They usually catch flying insects, but will also take prey off the ground.

Behavior and reproduction: Dusky woodswallows are often found in small communal flocks of ten to thirty birds. They are social birds, often roosting in a tight group within a tree hollow or fork. Dusky woodswallows rest during the day, usually perching closely together as a group. They communicate with each other with a chattering call, and will display anxiety when predators or intruders are close by giving out a harsh mobbing call.

Males and females build a small, flimsy, cup-like nest made of plant fibers. The nest, made from August to January, is constructed within a colony of other dusky woodswallows, often within a tree trunk or other similar structure. A small territory surrounding the nest is defended by the mated pair. Parents may use helpers to take care of their young. Females lay three to four blotched white eggs. The incubation period is around sixteen days. The fledgling period is sixteen to twenty days.

Dusky woodswallows and people: There is no known significance between people and dusky woodswallows.

Conservation status: Dusky woodswallows are not considered to be threatened. ∎



del Hoyo, Josep, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, J. Cabot, et al., eds. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, 1992.

Dickinson, Edward C., ed. The Howard and Moore Complete Checklist of the Birds of the World, 3rd ed. Princeton, NJ and Oxford, U.K.: Princeton University Press, 2003.

Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopedia of Birds, 2nd ed. San Diego, CA: Academic Press, 1998.

Harrison, Colin James Oliver. Birds of the World. London and New York: Dorling Kindersley, 1993.

Perrins, Christopher M., and Alex L. A. Middleton, eds. The Encyclopedia of Birds. New York: Facts on File, 1985.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsWoodswallows: Artamidae - Physical Characteristics, Diet, Behavior And Reproduction, Dusky Woodswallow (artamus Cyanopterus): Species Account - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, WOODSWALLOWS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS