Drongo or King Crow

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Drongo picture
Drongo Picture showing side view of head and beak


Picture of Drongo
Picture of Drongo from above, showing top-down view of beak and head

The Drongo is a native name of the a bird previously known as the Edolius forficatus of Madagascar, the name Drongo now having been not only adopted into various European languages, but also used generally for numerous allied species which and inhabit Africa, Asia, the Eastern Archipelago, and Australia. The Drongos, known as King Crows to Anglo-Indians, were previously placed as a subfamily among the Laniiidae (SHRIKE), but now rank as an entirely separate Family, Dicruridae. GR Gray placed in this group the genus Irena (see Bluebird), "most unfortunately," as Jerdon stated in his Birds of India ii page 104, and herein all who had any knowledge of the subject even in Gray's day agreed. The position of the genus Irena may have been uncertain at that time, but among Passeriformes, it was considered that one less suitable than this could hardly be found.

The colour of the Drongo when adult is almost invariably black.  They have only 10 feathers in their tail, the outer rectrices being in several forms much prolonged and often more or less involuted, while in some cases the outermost pair are enlarged at the end in a racquet-like form. Many are crested, and all have the base of the bill beset by more or fewer strong bristles. The Drongos seem to be completely insectivorous, and are usually remarkable for the courage with which they will attack and drive off larger birds, such as Kites or Crows.

Considerable difficulty is found in discriminating the specific and generic forms of this Family, but two species, the Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis) and the Square-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus ludwigii) inhabit the South of Africa, while a grand total of over 20 species exist, many inhabiting various parts of India, among which the Black Drongo, Dicrurus macrocercus is the King-Crow proper, ranging from Afghanistan to China.  Australia is graced, with the charmingly named Spangled Drongo, (Dicrurus bracteatus or Chibia bracteata), but many are found in Malaysia and the islands of the Malay Archipelago.  In Australia the word drongo is a slang term for someone who is foolish.



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