Masked Woodswallow

Did you know?

 In cold or windy conditions Masked Woodswallows sometimes cluster or huddle together on a branch or wire.

Musical soft twittering or chattering like those of a miner.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
Minimum Size: 
Maximum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
August to December
Clutch Size: 
12 days
13 days
Nestling Period: 
13 days
15 days
Conservation Status
Associated Plants
Plants associated with this species
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

The Masked Woodswallow is a slim-bodied woodswallow with a distinctive black face mask. The sexes differ noticeably in adult and immature plumages but are alike as juveniles.

The adult male Masked Woodswallow is silvery-grey on it's upper parts with a black face mask, bordered by a prominent white line curving up behind it's ear-coverts from the sides of it's breast. It is pale grey below, with contrasting whitish underwing and a prominent narrow white tip to the tail.

The adult female is patterned like the male but slightly duller and browner above, and duller grey-brown below. It has a more subdued dark-grey mask bordered by light grey-brown. Juveniles are similar to females but streaked and spotted whitish.

Similar species: 

The Masked Woodswallow is very similar in size, shape and proportions to the White-browed Woodswallow but is easily identified by it's black mask and pale grey underbody.  The Black-faced Cuckoo-shrike is much larger with no white border to the black mask. 

Where does it live?

Masked Woodswallows are widespread on mainland Australia although less so in coastal and near-coastal areas. They are generally absent from Cape York Peninsula and only vagrants have been recorded in Tasmania.


Masked Woodswallows mainly inhabit open forests and woodlands usually dominated by eucalypts or acacias. They are also found in lightly timbered pastoral country, orchards and vineyards and sometimes along watercourses. 

Seasonal movements: 

Masked Woodswallows are migratory within Australia, in general leaving the south in autumn or late summer and returning to breed in the spring, although some stay in the south throughout the year.  Their movements sometimes involve thousands of birds, which can arrive suddenly, often in mixed flocks with White-browed Woodswallows, but may also occur in small or large single-species flocks.

What does it do?

Masked Woodswallows forage for insects in the air above or between vegetation and for nectar in flowering trees and shrubs. They also occasionally eat fruit. Foraging takes place in flocks of varying sizes, from small flocks of 10-50 birds to much larger flocks of hundreds of birds.


Masked Woodswallows often begin nesting almost immediately on arrival in area and nest either solitarily or colonially, often in mixed colonies with White-browed Woodswallows. They build shallow, cup-shaped nests of dry or green grass often in tree forks or hollows.

Both parents feed nestlings and fledgelings,

Living with us

Masked Woodswallows are sometimes welcomed as a destroyer of insect pests in farmland.

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