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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 11:05 EDT

White-winged Triller

The White-winged Triller (Lalage tricolor) is one of the smaller members of the Cuckoo-shrike family. It is found throughout mainland Australia and possibly on the islands to the north, including New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. It is resident and sometimes nomadic over the warmer part of its range (inland Australia and points north), and during the summer is a breeding migrant to the cooler southern parts of Australia.

This species is fairly common in woodland and open scrub through most of their range, and close to riverbeds in the central arid zone. The striking male has black above and white below during breeding season and trills cheerfully through much of the day at this time (mid-spring to early summer), frequently rising on fluttering wings in song flight. The female is similarly patterned but in dull fawns and white. In the non-breeding season, male birds appear similar to the female, retaining blackish feathers only on the wings and tail.

On average this bird measures 16 to 18 cm long, White-winged Trillers eat a variety of insects, which are taken on the ground, from in foliage, or in the air.

The correct classification of the White-winged Triller and its close northern relative, the White-shouldered Triller (Lalage sueurii) of Eastern Indonesia is uncertain. Some authorities regard them as two races of a single species, in which case the White-winged Triller becomes Lalage sueurii tricolor.

White-winged Triller