Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum

Dicrurus paradiseus (Linnaeus, 1766)

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum/Division:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Dicruridae
Genus:Dicrurus
Species:D. paradiseus
Common Names:Greater Racket-tailed Drongo
Status:Common resident

Description

The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo has a black, glossy plumage, and two elongated tail streamers, with each tip ending in a rounded ‘racquet’ shape. The elongated tail can be as long as 30 cm, giving the bird a total length of 63 to 65 cm.

Read more about the Passeriformes order.
Read more about the Dicruridae family.

Distribution

The species ranges from the Indian subcontinent, south China, Indochina, Thailand, Peninsula Malaysia, Singapore to Sumatra, and Borneo.

Localities

It is found throughout wooded parts of Singapore.

Locality Map

General Biology

The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo frequents forestes areas. It has a raucous voice with a metallic tinge and is a good mimic of various sounds of other birds, animals, and even some man-made sounds. A video of its calls and songs can be heard HERE and HERE. It is a regular member of mixed species feeding flocks, flushing out insects as the noisy flock moves along.

The bird has the ability to perch vertically on tree trunks in the manner of a woodpecker - with its head up and tail flat against the trunk, as shown HERE to forage for ants and other insects.

It also has the reputation of being aggressive and fearless, so much so that it has even been seen mobbing a Changeable Hawk Eagle (Spizaetus cirrhatus) that ended up with the drongo being pursued by the eagle. It has also been seen mobbing a Red-tailed Ratsnake (Gonyosome oxycephalum) together with other birds. 

Diet

It feeds mainly on insects like alate termites - dramatic images of the drongo picking termites on the wing can be viewed HERE. Its other food include praying mantis, Forest Cockroach (Pseudophoraspis nebulosa) ... 

This drongo also indulges in kleptoparasitism, snatching food from smaller birds as well as from mammals.

Life Cycle

A pair was observed building a nest on the branch of a tree using climbers to tie the nest edge to the branch fork. The completed nest was a woven cup with the base not completed closed. This allows the eggs when laid to be visible from below. Both birds had their prominent rackets already dropped.

References

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

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