The White-breasted Woodswalow in the Sydney region, NSW

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Subject: The White-breasted Woodswalow in the Sydney region, NSW
From: "Alan Morris" <>
Date: Fri, 17 Sep 2004 20:05:32 +1000
Hi Birders,
Bruce Cox enquired about the status of the White-breasted Woodswallow in the Sydney region, so here is a summary that I have prepared for him.


Hindwood & McGill 1956 The Birds of Sydney listed the White-breasted Woodswallow in their Provisional List on the basis of a report at Plumbton in 1938 by Johno Woods but pointed out that there was no proof of the event. At the time of publication the nearest place to Sydney where White-breasted Woodswallows occurred was the Hunter Estuary at Newcastle, 160 km to the north.


At the time that I became an active birdwatcher which was in 1964, White-breasted Woodswallows had been located at the Wyong Racecourse Swamp, 45 km south of Newcastle and 115 km north of Sydney.

White-breasted Woodswallows were first recorded in the County of Cumberland on 5/2/1987 when 2A+2J were recorded at Longneck Lagoon and again on 15/12/1987 when a pair were seen. When I moved to the Central Coast in 1988, I found that the White-breasted Woodswallows were present each summer all around Tuggerah Lakes and adjacent wetlands, departing in April and returning late August each year. They gradually extended their range south to include Wamberal Lagoon and Brisbane Water in due course.

Subsequently the following records track their extension of range south, all information coming from the NSW Annual Bird Reports published by Birding NSW since 1970:

  1. Nesting Centennial Park, Sydney 29/9 ? 3/11, rearing 2 young.
  2. Nesting attempted Centennial Park 23/11, but failed due to interference by a Swamphen.
  3. 30 including juveniles seen at Cattai 3/1, 2 Centennial Park 3/9.
  4. 2 Centennial Park 30/10 & 2 Longneck Lagoon 16/11.
  5. No reports
  6. 1 Dee Why 24/9
  7. 5 Bayview 3/2, 2A+J Bakers Marina, Pittwater 10/3-28/6, 2 Long Reef 1/10, 2A+2Jin Norfolk Island Pine, Dee Why beach 29/9-26/12.
  8. 1 Longneck Lagoon 12/4-13/4 & 5/10, 1 Pittwater 28/9, 1 Budderoo Plateau (Illawarra Region) 15/3
  9. 3 Narrabeen Lagoon 4/4
  10. 5 Deep Creek, Narrabeen 27/1 & 2 Cattai NP 22/2.
  11. 5 Culburra (Illawarra Region) 14/2, 2 Sackville 2/9.
  12. No reports for Sydney or further south in 2001
  13. 3 Mogo SF Moruya (South Coast Region ? 1st Record) 24/9, 1 Penrith Lakes 6/9 & 1 Bayview 19/1

The 2003 Report is yet to be collated but from memory I am aware that there were reports from Bayview and Penrith Lakes. It is possible that as the birds are being seen more regularly, people are not bothering to report them. However this little table highlights the southwards extension in coastal regions for this species, a movement paralleled by the Pacific Baza.

Alan Morris

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