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The Ashy Woodswallow (Artamus fuscus) sometimes also called the ashy swallow-shrike is a woodswallow which is found in south Asia. Like other woodswallows, it has a short curve bill and a short square tail and long wings.
It is usually seen perched in groups, high on powerlines, tall bare trees and most often in areas with a predominance of tall palm trees.
Range map from www.oiseaux.net
This stocky woodswallow has an ashy grey upperparts with a darker head and a narrow pale band on the rump. The underside is pinkish grey and the short slaty black tail is tipped in white. The finch-like bill is silvery. In flight the long wing looks very broad at the base giving it a very triangular outline.
The first primary is very short. The legs are short and the birds usually perch on high vantage points from which they make aerial sallies. There are no geographic variations in plumage and no subspecies have been designated.
Males and females are indistinguishable in the field, however an old report suggests that the sexes differ in the colour of the inside of the mouth. Young birds appear barred on the underside.
Khao Sam Roi Yot National Park, Thailand - July 2020
Woodswallows are found in a range of habitats from the plains to about 2000 m, over cultivated areas, in forest clearings and often in areas with tall palm trees. The species is widely distributed across India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma, Laos, Malaysia and China.
They are absent in the very arid regions of western India. They have been recorded on the island of Maldives.
Ashy Woodswallows are usually seen in small groups. Several birds may sit huddled side-by-side on the bare branches of a tall tree or on high vantage points such as powerlines and pylons. From their perches, they make aerial sallies, flapping and gliding to capture insects in the air.
Insects may be caught in the beak, transferred and held in their feet, torn up with their bill and swallowed without returning to the perch.
They may also return to the perch with prey to feed and will sometimes sit on the ground and have been known to visit bird baths. Although mainly feeding on insects, they may take nectar from flowers of trees such as Erythrina. They have been recorded feeding on toxic butterflies of the family Danaiidae such as Euploea core which are avoided by other birds.
The breeding season in India is March to June, the nest is a shallow cup placed at some height such as at the base of the frond of a tall palm or a hollow atop a street lighting post. The usual clutch consists of 2–3 greenish white eggs with brown spots.
Both parents take part in nest building, incubation and feeding the young.
They will mob larger birds such as crows and birds of prey that approach too close to the nesting birds. The song consists of a varied combination of wheezy notes that may include imitations of the calls of other birds. The usual call is shrill nasal chewk.
Editing: Recording was filtered to reduce the sound of a reversing car alarm.
Habitat: In general, a degraded scrub jungle. Three birds were perched on an electric pole inside the scrub jungle.
Other Notes: The three birds were making intermittent sallies, and were making these calls even in flight. All the three were not perching at the same time, when one comes to perch it displaces another one, who then goes for a sally and then comes and displaces another one. One of the birds also caught an Odonate in mid air.
Recorded with my ZOOM H5 Handy Recorder. High Pass Filter applied with Audacity
5 birds sitting on a wire, in the end we hear the noisy bird taking off
They make seasonal movements, possibly in response to rainfall.
The woodswallows, Artamidae, are among the few perching birds that have special feathers called powder down that break up into fine dust that is spread by the birds onto their body when preening. Powder down is also found in the egrets. Members of the family have a brush-tipped tongue.
They also have some of the thoracic vertebrae fused into a structure called the notarium.
A species of ectoparasitic birdlouse, Menacanthus elbeli, and a mite that lives inside the feather quill have been described from hosts of this species. Other organisms associated with the species include endoparasitic trematodes Plagiorchis dactylopharynx, Papillatrema echinata and Stomylotrema travassosi.
Sighted: (Date of first photo that I could use) 13th of February 2016
Location: Phetchaburi Rice Fields
Visit Nick Upton at www.thaibirding.com for HOT birding tips for sites around Bangkok and Thailand. There are reviews of the birding sites with maps and information.
And if you like Nick Upton's web page you will also like www.norththailandbirding.com I have used this page together with Nick Upton's page when planning my birding tours. Excellent reviews and information about the birding sites.
I also got the Thai names of the birds from www.norththailandbirding.com. There is a bird check list with all the names in English and Thai. And of course also the Scientific Name. Down load the birdlist in Microsoft Excel format at www.norththailandbirding.com Or down load the Excel sheet by clicking HERE
And my new aid, maybe, and I say maybe the best aid. I brought my mobile phone as my SIM card have stopped working and I tried to get it to work again so I can use the internet. Thus I had my phone in my pocket on my first game drive in Jim Corbett National Park.
We saw a bird and I asked my Guide and the driver if they had a pen and a paper as I had forgot my pen and paper in my room. I remembered my LG phone and I recorded the name. And thus I will always bring my phone. Writing the name in the car and I have found more than once that it can be hard to read what I had wrote when I'm back in my room.
So now I always have my mobile in my pocket and it has been a great help. And from November 2018 I use eBird. Bird watching in U.A.E and Oman and my guide in Dubai recommended eBird and I have used the app since then and I note every bird I can identify in my eBird app.