The Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus) is a gregarious nomadic species that can often appear in large flocks (also usually seen with the White-browed Woodswallow). They have a chunky appearance, with broad, triangular wings and a short, slight decurved bill.

Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus)
Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus), Santa Teresa Rd, NT

The male of the specie has a defined black face and throat that form a distinct mask, edged with a white crescent at the rear, a grey to blue-grey crown, upperparts and tail. The tail feathers are white tipped that form a pale terminal band that is visible when in flight. The underparts are pale grey to off-white. The wings and covert feathers are grey, the primaries being darker. The wing coverts have thin pale edges that create a scaled look. The male has a more accentuated plumage pattern to that of the female. They have blue-grey bill with a black tip.

The Females are similar but the facial mask is grey with only a faint pale crescent at the rear. They also have slightly darker grey upperparts, tinged with brown. The underparts are pale-grey with a slight tinged of rusty brown to the breast. The juvenile birds are pale brown, with darker grey-brown back feathers and wing coverts. They have flecked brown underparts with faint barring towards the flank. The juvenile facial mask are a pale grey-brown, that becomes more apparent in the immature bird. The young birds have a pale brown bill, being dark at the very tip.

The Masked Woodswallows are like other woodswallows, in that they have powder-down feathers. The tips of these feathers disintegrate to form a fine powder that the birds use when grooming.

They are widespread on mainland Australia, although less common in the coastal and near coastal areas. They have been recorded in Tasmania, New Zealand, Norfolk Island and Lord Howe Island. Mainly in arid and semi arid regions, they are also found in open forest, woodland, heath and farmlands with trees.

  • Scientific classification
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Aves
  • Order: Passeriformes
  • Family: Artamidae
  • Genus: Artamus
  • Species: A. personatus
  • Binomial name: Artamus personatus
Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus)
Male and female Masked Woodswallow (Artamus personatus), Santa Teresa Rd, NT

Footnote & References

  1. Masked woodswallow, New Zealand Birds Online,
  2. Masked woodswallow, (last visited Aug. 26, 2021).