Black Drongo – Black Bird With a Distinctive Forked Tail
All black, the black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus) is a small Asian passerine bird. This blackbird belongs to the drongo family Dicruridae. This bird is a common resident breeder of Iran, Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, China, and Indonesia. The Black Drongo has a distinctive formed tail. It feeds on insects and measures 28c in length.
They fly with strong flaps of the wing and are capable of fast maneuvers that enable them to capture flying insects. They are found as summer visitors to northeastern Afghanistan and northern Pakistan but are residents from the Indus Valley until Bangladesh and into India and Sri Lanka.
This whole blackbird is common in open agricultural areas and light forest, perching conspicuously on a bare perch or along power lines. The Black Drongo has aggressive behavior towards much larger birds. Like crows, never hesitating to dive-bomb any bird of prey that invades its territory.
Due to aggressive behavior, this bird earns the informal name of king crow. They are aggressive and fearless birds, they will attack much larger species that enter they’re nesting territory, including crows and birds of prey. A superstition in central India is that cattle would lose their horn if a newly fledged bird alighted on it.
The black drongo was previously grouped along with the African fork-tailed drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis). The Asian forms are now treated as separate species with more than a few distinct populations. The species was once considered a subspecies of the fork-tailed drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis).
It has a close relative that diverged relatively in recent times. The two are now considered distinct species, with the fork-tailed drongo, restricted to Africa and separated from the Asian range of the black drongo. Black drongos were introduced just before the Second World War from Taiwan to the island of Rota to help in the control of insects.
The adults usually have a small white spot at the base of the gape. The iris is dark brown however, the sexes cannot be told apart in the field. Juveniles are brownish and may have some white barring or speckling towards the belly and vent, and can be mistaken for the white-bellied drongo. Play behavior has been observed with birds dropping a leaf in the air and catching it in mid-air and these may possibly help young birds acquire aerobatic skills.
First-year Drongo birds have white tips to the feathers of the belly, while 2nd years have these white-tipped feathers restricted to the vent. It has short legs, they sit upright on thorny bushes, bare perches, or electrical wires. They may also perch on grazing animals. They are able of producing a wide range of calls but a common two-note tee-hee call resembling that of the Shikra.
Black Drongos become active very early at dawn and roost later than many other birds. They associate with common mynas, cattle egrets, and other birds that share the same diet and habitat. Black Drongos are bred mainly in Feb and Mar in southern India and until August in other parts of the country.
Both Males and females birds like to sing in the mornings during the breeding season. Courtship can include aerobatic chases and they may lock their wings and beaks together, with the pair sometimes falling to the ground. Displays may be made on the ground. Pair bonds are retained for a whole breeding season.
The nest is a cup made with a thin layer of sticks placed in the fork of a branch and is built in a week by both the male and female. The usual clutch is three or hardly ever four eggs laid in a cup nest placed in the fork of an outer branch of a tree. The egg’s colors are pale cream to red with spots and markings and are 26 mm long and 19 mm wide.
Both parents are incubated eggs and hatch after 14 to 15 days. Both sexes continue to feed and protect them for a month. Young birds may beg for food for longer but are often ignored or chased away by the adults. Their inclination of driving away predators from near their nests is believed to encourage other birds such as orioles, doves, pigeons, babblers, and especially bulbuls, to nest in the vicinity.