Dicruridae – Drongos

Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus ©Frank Vassen (Creative Commons) Website

The drongos, Dicruridae, are a family of passerine birds of the Old World tropics. They are related to the Rhipidurinae (Australasian fantails), Monarchinae (monarchs and paradise flycatchers) and Grallininae (magpie-larks).

Drongos are mostly black or dark grey, short-legged birds, with an upright stance when perched. They have forked tails and some have elaborate tail decorations. They feed on insects which they catch in flight. Several species of animals and birds respond to drongos’ alarm calls, which often warn of the presence of a predator. They have been shown to utter hoax alarm calls in order to benefit from the false alarms as other birds scatter leaving them to the food source. (Fork-tailed or common drongos in the Kalahari desert are known to use alarm calls in the absence of a predator to cause animals to flee and abandon food, which they eat, getting up to 23% of their food this way.)

These insectivorous birds are usually found in open forests or bush. They sit very upright whilst perched, like a shrike.

Two to four eggs are laid in a nest high in a tree. Despite their small size, they are aggressive and fearless, and will attack much larger species if their nest or young are threatened.

There are 25 species of Drongo; they are:

Square-tailed Drongo Dicrurus ludwigii
Shining Drongo Dicrurus atripennis
Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis
Velvet-mantled Drongo Dicrurus modestus
Grand Comoro Drongo Dicrurus fuscipennis
Aldabra Drongo Dicrurus aldabranus
Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus
Mayotte Drongo Dicrurus waldenii
Black Drongo Dicrurus macrocercus
Ashy Drongo Dicrurus leucophaeus
White-bellied Drongo Dicrurus caerulescens
Crow-billed Drongo Dicrurus annectans
Bronzed Drongo Dicrurus aeneus
Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus remifer
Balicassiao Dicrurus balicassius
Hair-crested Drongo Dicrurus hottentottus
Tablas Drongo Dicrurus menagei
Sumatran Drongo Dicrurus sumatranus
Wallacean Drongo Dicrurus densus
Sulawesi Drongo Dicrurus montanus
Spangled Drongo Dicrurus bracteatus
Paradise (Ribbon-tailed) Drongo Dicrurus megarhynchus
Andaman Drongo Dicrurus andamanensis
Greater Racket-tailed Drongo Dicrurus paradiseus
Sri Lanka Drongo Dicrurus lophorinus

Species Links
  • Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Lanius forficatus Linnaeus, 1766, south-east Madagascar. Recent DNA studies indicate that this species' closest relative is D. aldabranus, following colonization of Aldabra from Madagascar less than 125,000 years ago, and also that it is more closely related to D. waldenii than to the older D. fuscipennis; all were previously thought to be part of a superspecies that contained also D. macrocercus, D. adsimilis and D. modestus, but morphological and genetic differentiation too great to support such a relationship. Recent phylogeographical study of nominate race (Madagascar) found weak genetic structure along an E to W pattern and relatively low genetic diversity, with strong evidence that population had expanded out from several centres on the island. Two subspecies recognized.
  • Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Crested Drongo Dicrurus forficatus

    Species Account
    The crested drongo (Dicrurus forficatus) is a species of bird in the Dicruridae family. This bird is black with a bluish-green sheen, a distinctive crest on the forehead and a forked tail.
  • Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis

    HBW Species Account
    Taxonomy: Corvus adsimilis Bechstein, 1794, Duiwenhok River, southern Cape, South Africa. Forms a superspecies with D. macrocercus and often treated as conspecific, but differs slightly in plumage and significantly in proportions and voice; close relationship between the two supported by recent DNA studies. Previously, D. fuscipennis, D. modestus, D. waldenii, D. forficatus and D. aldabranus thought to be part of same superspecies, but morphological and genetic differentiation considered too great to validate such a relationship. Race divaricatus intergrades with fugax in N Uganda and Kenya. Four subspecies recognized.
  • Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis

    Species Account
    Sound archive and distribution map
  • Fork-tailed Drongo Dicrurus adsimilis

    Species Account
    he fork-tailed drongo, also called the common drongo, African drongo, or savanna drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), is a species of drongo in the family Dicruridae, which are medium-sized[2] passerine birds of the Old World. It is native to the tropics, subtropics and temperate zones of the Afrotropics. Its range was formerly considered to include Asia, but the Asian species is now called the black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus).
Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 25

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