Birds of Bangladesh: Drongos

There are 26 recorded species of drongos found in different parts of the world, with Bangladesh being home to six of these – crow-billed drongo (Dicrurus annectans), bronzed drongo (Dicrurus aeneus), black drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus), spangled drongo (Dicrurus holientottus), greater racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus paradiseus) and lesser racket-tailed drongo (Dicrurus remifer). The name ‘drongo’ is thought to have originated in Madagascar from the indigenous language for a local species of bird, but has come to be used for all members of the family Dicruridae of the order Passeriformes.

Drongos are known for their wide range of vocal abilities, with some species able to imitate virtually any sound, including human voices. Their own vocalizations, however, tend to be harsh, including whistling, cackling and metallic sounds. Drongos are insectivorous and generally choose open forest and bush-type habitat. They either catch their prey in mid-air, or deftly pluck it from the ground. Most drongos are black in color, with some having a metallic sheen to their feathers.

The bronzed drongo is one of the smallest of the species, distinguished by the metallic gloss on its feathers, with a spangled effect evident on the neck, head and breast of the bird. The outer tail feather of its slender forked tail flare outward slightly, which is also an identifying feature of this species. As its name suggests, the spangled drongo also has this spangled effect around its neck, head and breast, but this species has fine feathers on top of its head which look like hair, no doubt the reason it is also known as the hair-crested drongo.

Drongos tend to be territorial during breeding time and are known to fearlessly attack larger species than themselves if they feel threatened. As an arboreal species, drongos build their nests high in trees, laying two to four eggs at a time. Both parents raise their young.

Be sure to look out for these interesting little birds when exploring the nature reserves and conservation areas of Bangladesh.