White-breasted Woodswallow

Did you know?

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

Brassy chirps: 'pirrt, pirrt'; loud chattering and quiet twittering; some mimicry.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Breeding season: 
August to January; after rain in dry areas.
Clutch Size: 
Three to four.
15 days
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The White-breasted Woodswallow is a medium-sized bird with a dark 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. 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.

Similar species: 

The White-breasted Woodswallow is the only one of the woodswallows with no white in its tail. Its distinctive 'hood' and white breast also help to distinguish it.

Where does it live?

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.


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

Seasonal movements: 

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

What does it do?

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.


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.

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