Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

Great Woodswallow (Artamus maximus)


French: Grand Langrayen German: Riesenschwalbenstar Spanish: Artamo grande

Artamus maximus

A. B. Meyer

, 1874,

Hatam, Arfak Mountains, New Guinea




Mountain ranges of New Guinea, from 800 m to 2800 m.

Descriptive notes

20–21 cm; 52–69 g. Has head and throat to upper breast and upper­parts (except rump) and tail dark slate-grey; rump uppertail-coverts and underparts white;... read more


Chattering "kaka­kaka..." given by perched groups; also an upslurred "chirp... read more


Mainly clearings and garden areas with dead trees, above 800 m; occasionally in tall emergents... read more

Food and feeding

Insects, often quite large ones. Prey usually taken in flight and brought back to a perch, where held in the feet for dismembering.... read more


Breeding recorded in Aug–Dec (from middle of dry season to early wet season). Nest an open cup, usually more than 15 m up in dead... read more


Resident, so far as is known.

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Widely distributed throughout all mountain ranges of New Guinea, where fairly common to scarce. In some places seems to be commensal with humans in... read more

Recommended citation

Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2020). Great Woodswallow (Artamus maximus). 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).