White-breasted Woodswallows

It may not be cool to anthropomorphise but it’s virtually impossible not to when looking at the poses and interactions of the 15 White-breasted Woodswallows sharing a perch in the early morning sun.


White-breasted Woodswallows - Kim Wormald

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)
1/800, f/7.1, ISO 400


This week I returned from a trip to south west New South Wales, my vehicle is still covered in dust (inside and out) and I’m still smiling. Among the beautiful birds I saw were a small flock of White-breasted Woodswallows. This little group were happily stretching, preening themselves and each other (allopreening), and soaking up the warmth of the sun after a cool night.

As a group they have thoughtfully posed in such a way that all their distinguishing features can be seen, though you need to look closely to glimpse the white under-wing. These woodswallows have dark blue-grey heads, necks, backs, legs, tails and upper-wings. Their underparts, under-wings and rumps are white while young birds have a faint creamy tint. I particularly like their black-tipped blue bills and their dark brown eyes. White-breasted Woodswallows are the only woodswallows that don’t have a white-tipped tail.

The three little birds with their backs to the camera look particularly sweet.


White-breasted Woodswallow - Kim Wormald

White-breasted Woodswallow (Artamus leucorynchus)
1/800, f/7.1, ISO 400


Woodswallows generally feed on the wing, swooping and darting after flying insects, but they also take insects from the ground and the canopy. The bird above took several attempts to capture the bee, alternatively holding it and returning it to the branch before swallowing it. White-breasted Woodswallows also feed on nectar which they take with brush-tipped tongues.

I mentioned that it’s not de rigueur to anthropomorphise animals but the more I observe various species in the wild, the more I think it is totally appropriate to attribute them with human qualities. Like humans, they want food and shelter, they communicate with each other, raise their families together and vigorously protect their hatchlings. They preen each other to strengthen their relationships and many species, including White-breasted Woodswallows, are highly sociable.

Happy birding, Kim


Update on the Victorian duck shooting season

There was good news last week but this week we were told that $5.3 million of our tax dollars are going to support a shameful, archaic ‘hobby’ that is deplored by around 90% of the population. Minister for Agriculture, Jaala Pulford, announced funding of $5.3 million from the 2016/17 Victorian Budget in a press release titled “Better hunting all part of the game plan”. In the release she states that game hunters make a significant contribution to our state’s economy (though the figure she quotes includes ‘pest’ hunting and from the government’s document “Estimating the economic impact of hunting in Victoria 2013” the portion attributed to shooting native birds is $43 million). Her figures are soundly disputed by a report by The Australia Institute which states that, “There would be no impact on expenditure in Victoria from a duck hunting ban” and estimates a benefit of banning duck hunting of “around $60 million per year”. The report is comprehensive and well worth reading: Out for a duck – An analysis of the economics of duck hunting in Victoria

Animals Australia have made it easy to send a note to MPs to express concern about your hard-earned dollars being used to promote animal cruelty: Take Action Now


~ Thank you for visiting and commenting

~ If you would like a weekly email letting you know that lirralirra has been updated please use the ‘subscribe’ box above right


8 comments to White-breasted Woodswallows

  • Jenny Skewes

    Yes woodswallows are very endearing, especially these White-breasted. A charming photo.

  • Alison Moore

    Hello Kim,
    These gorgeous birds and their preening behaviour were seasonally observed at our former home in Tassie’s north east. always to joy to see your pictures.

    I have written both to Daniel Andrews and Mike Baird (as we now live in NSW)re the disgraceful decision of Victorian government to allocate $5M to the shooter’s lobby.

    Thank you for once again keeping us abreast of these issues and encouraging us to stand up and fight for our wonderful birds.

    • lirralirra

      Thank you so much Alison for standing up for our wildlife, the tide of public opinion is strong, I hope the politicians catch up with it soon. I would love to be able to watch woodswallows from my home!

  • Alyssa

    These little birds are so beautiful! The three looking over their shoulders are just priceless 🙂

    I’m so upset about the funding given to game shooters, it is a huge disappointment. Thanks for posting the links and info.

  • Genevieve

    wonderful shots Kim 🙂 … do you share these on Facebook anywhere? I subscribe to several, but I can’t recall seeing your name on any of them?

    • lirralirra

      Which Facebook groups do you belong to Genevieve? I do share on some. I’m glad you enjoy the images, thanks for commenting 🙂

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>