Black-faced Woodswallow

Did you know?

During droughts, the Black-faced Woodswallow may be seen in coastal areas where it is not normally found, such as Kangaroo Island in South Australia or the Illawarra region, New South Wales.

Soft sweet calls; also lively song which includes mimicry and scratchy 'chiff chiff' calls.
Facts and Figures
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Breeding season: 
August to January; after rain in arid regions.
Clutch Size: 
Three to four.
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Black-faced Woodswallow is a smokey grey-brown above with a black face around the base of the bill and the eyes. The underparts are lighter grey with a black undertail in the race cinereus or a white undertail in the race albiventris of north-eastern Queensland. The black tail feathers are tipped white. The bluish bill is tipped black. Young birds are mainly brown, with extensive streaking, the underparts are washed buff-brown and they have a pale brown bill. May be seen in groups, often with other woodswallows, and roosts in tight clusters in trees during storms or sudden cold weather.

Similar species: 

The Black-faced Woodswallow is similar to the Dusky Woodswallow, A. cyanopterus, and the Masked Woodswallow, A. personatus. It differs from the Dusky by being paler overall and lacks the white streak along the leading edge of the wing. The Masked Woodswallow has a larger and more defined face mask that extends down the throat to the upper breast, bordered by a white crescent. It also has paler underparts and a pale grey rather than black tail.

Where does it live?

The Black-faced Woodswallow is found across mainland Australia, mainly west of the Great Dividing Range in Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria, and is absent from the far south-western corner of Western Australia.


The Black-faced Woodswallow is found in open country, often far from water, as well as in open woodlands, around lakes and wetlands and in irrigated areas.

Seasonal movements: 

Considered to be the most sedentary of the woodswallows, it will move to coastal areas during droughts.

What does it do?

The Black-faced Woodswallow feeds on insects. It perches on shrubs, fences and telegraph wires, darting down to catch prey and will often hover. It will also eat nectar. Often feeds in mixed flocks with swifts and swiflets, and also associates with other woodswallows and the White-winged Triller.


Black-faced Woodswallows nest and rear their young co-operatively, often mobbing potential predators. The nests are flimsy constructions of twigs placed low in a small tree, stump or artificial structure.

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