Family Woodswallows and Butcherbirds (Artamidae)

Least Concern

White-backed Woodswallow (Artamus insignis)


French: Langrayen des Bismarck German: Schneerücken-Schwalbenstar Spanish: Artamo dorsiblanco
Other common names: Bismarck Woodswallow

Artamus insignis

P. L. Sclater

, 1877,

New Ireland


Superficially similar to geographically remote A. monachus. Monotypic.


New Britain and New Ireland, in Bismarck Archipelago.

Descriptive notes

18–19 cm; 49–54 g. Head, throat, wing and tail are sooty black, remainder of plumage white; iris brown, pale greyish-blue eyering; bill pale blue-grey, tip black... read more


A piercing upslurred, high "zwink zwink" the only call reported. Presumed song is a quiet... read more


Tropical moist lowland forest, including clearings and adjoining gardens; mainly in hills to 900 m... read more

Food and feeding

Insects. Prey taken on the wing. Makes aerial sorties from perches in dead trees; soars more in manner of A. maximus than does... read more


No information.


Resident; reluctant to cross water, though has been recorded as vagrant to Watom (off NE New... read more

Status and conservation

Not globally threatened. Locally common, but mostly either scarce or absent. Restricted to New Britain and New Ireland; absent from outlying islands in Bismarck Archipelago.... read more

Recommended citation

Rowley, I. & Russell, E. (2020). White-backed Woodswallow (Artamus insignis). 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 26 January 2020).