A feast of cicadas

Mixed flocks of migrating woodswallows, White-browed with a few Masked, have established in a number of local spots. While they still seem somewhat undecided about breeding, an abundance of food will hopefully convince them to stay on. One such flock moved into the area behind the old Newstead Butter Factory, on the ‘west bank’ of the Loddon. The attraction was a mass emergence of cicadas amongst the River Red-gums along Green Gully Creek. The woodswallows were having a field day!

Male White-browed Woodswallow with cicada prey, Green Gully Creek Newstead, 2nd December 2012.

Male White-browed Woodswallow with cicada prey, Green Gully Creek Newstead, 2nd December 2012.

As a prelude to breeding I spotted one pair engaged in courtship feeding, the male bringing a captured cicada to the perched female. It was very quickly devoured!







I’m not sure about the identity of the cicadas. They were quite small, about 1.5 cm in length, black-bodied with yellow-orange striped abdomens and eyes. As a start, I consulted Andrew Skeoch’s excellent post from January 2010 but was quickly baffled … feel free to illuminate me!

Many thanks to Greg Hatton for alerting me to this event.

2 responses to “A feast of cicadas

  1. Lindsay Popple

    Hi Geoff,

    Nice post and great photos. Certainly one of Australia’s most stunning woodswallows. The cicadas are what we call River Ambertail (Yoyetta sp. nr landsboroughi), a widespread species associated with the Murray–Darling and Lake Eyre drainage basins. They tend to emerge on mass in spring/early summer.



    • Hi Lindsay

      Many thanks for the ID … I’m looking forward to the weather warming and the return of both cicadas and woodswallows!

      Cheers, geoff

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