Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus)


French: Langrayen gris German: Schwarzgesicht-Schwalbenstar Spanish: Artamo carinegro

Artamus cinereus


, 1817,

Timor; error = south coast of Western Australia opposite Archipelago of the Recherche


Races may represent two species, differing in plumage. Geographical variation rather complex and not fully understood; races intergrade extensively where they meet, e.g. nominate intergrading with melanops over very wide area across SW of species’ range; further study needed. EC Queensland population was previously listed as dealbatus, a replacement name for hypoleucus (itself a new name for albiventris, preoccupied), as type specimen of hypoleucus is from an intergrade population; however, dealbatus subsequently shown to be a junior synonym of inkermani#R. Five subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • A. c. perspicillatus Bonaparte, 1850 – Semau, Timor, Leti and Sermata Is, in E Lesser Sundas.
  • A. c. melanops Gould, 1865 – N, C & inland SE Australia.
  • A. c. cinereus Vieillot, 1817 – Black-vented Woodswallow – SW Australia.
  • A. c. normani (Mathews, 1923) – White-vented Woodswallow – SC New Guinea and NE Australia (C & S Cape York Peninsula, and inland NE Queensland).
  • A. c. inkermani Keast, 1958 – EC Queensland.
  • Descriptive notes

    18 cm; 30·9–40 g. Nominate race has head and upperparts brownish-grey, black from lores to upper throat, black rump and uppertail-coverts; tail black, all... read more


    Very vocal, almost every movement accompanied by calls. Has noisy chattering call, like that of... read more


    Open woodland, shrubland and cultivation; absent from closed forest, where replaced by A.... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insectivorous, taking wide variety of invertebrates. When locusts (Acrididae) present in plague numbers, becomes a specialist predator.... read more


    Season mainly spring to early summer, but eggs recorded in all months except Jun. Often breeds co-operatively, in groups of up to six... read more


    Generally resident; some movement reported, especially in N of range, but nature of this uncertain. read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Widespread and locally common throughout range.

    Recommended citation

    Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2020). Black-faced Woodswallow (Artamus cinereus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 27 February 2020).