Ashy Woodswallow

Ashy Woodswallow Artamus fuscus is the only representative in China of the monogeneric family Artamidae. Resident western Yunnan east across southern Guangxi to southern Guangdong and Hainan. HABITAT & BEHAVIOR Open country with scattered trees, in particular tall palm trees; to 1500 m (4,920 ft.). Perches on high, bare branches and on telephone wires, often in small, huddled flocks; soars and glides in swallow-like flight, taking insects on the wing. Also laps nectar with brushy tongue. ID Stocky, long-winged, and square-tailed (the latter character distinguishing it from swallows). In flight, pointy, wide-based wings have strong triangular appearance. Head ashy-grey, in slight contrast to nape, mantle, back, and rump having brownish tinge (not always apparent); lores blackish. Uppertail coverts have narrow white band. Dark grey tail tipped white. Underparts pinkish-grey. Whiter vent and undertail coverts may show indistinct brownish-grey barring. Juvenile browner on head and upperparts, with narrow buff-white fringes on mantle, back, and wing feathers, giving scaly appearance; paler below with brownish cast on breast. BARE PARTS Bill stout, finch-like, silvery (brownish-pink cast in juvenile), with black tip; feet grey. VOICE Call a squeaky, nasal chek. VOICE Song a chattering twitter, with interspersed calls. Song and call reminiscent of Barn Swallow, but stronger and more nasal. — Craig Brelsford


Daniel Bengtsson served as chief ornithological consultant for Craig Brelsford’s Photographic Field Guide to the Birds of China, from which this species description is drawn.

Go to Birds of China page

Reach us:

Be notified every time we post. Send an
email with “Subscribe” as the subject to

Donate to Shanghai Birding!

Shanghai Birding 上海观鸟