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ARTAMIDAE Woodswallows > White-breasted Woodswallow

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White-breasted Woodswallow

Latin Name : Artamus leucorhynchus

Site Name : Sibu

Photographer : SINGH HSS, Amar

Date : 2012-06-04

Notes : Was in East Malaysia for a conference and had two short opportunities to explore this city, where I once worked in 1989. White-breasted Woodswallows are prominent in most cities in Sarawak. They are easily spotted, flying elegantly over the buildings, foraging for insects. I had been watching a pair flying over the hotel the four days I was there and on the third evening managed to nip out to walk along the waterfront adjacent to the hotel. Followed the pair, I had seen intermittently, to get better images. Found instead that one adult was trying to get nesting material from the fared end of a nylon rope at the mast of a boat. The adult then flew to the top of one of the boats and the partner accompanied it. They were nesting close to the top of a crane on a boat at the river front. I know some might think they were just roosting there, and I thought the same initially. However the adult went in and out a number of times. Some nesting debris could just be seen protruding out. The boat also did not look like it has moved much for a long time. Reports from Sarawak Davison 1999 (The Birds of Borneo by B. E. Smythies, 4th edition) reports nesting, in this region, on tress, occurring most months with a predominance in April-May. Wells 2007 (The birds of the Thai-Malay Peninsula: Vol. 2) reports that many nests in the peninsular have been found on metal service poles or pole cavities. This supports my observation. See also a nesting record on a metal structure here (scroll down for record): The city has grown extensively in the past 2 decades and affected bird life (from my memory of it). Lighting was fading fast in the evening, so images impaired. DNA evidence suggests that the woodswallows form an evolutionary clade with the family, Cracticidae, the butcherbirds, Cracticus species and the Australian magpie, Gymnorhina tibicen. Woodswallows are among the very few passerines that actually can soar. (See: Amar