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

Number of Species
  • Number of bird species: 25

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