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Drongos: Dicruridae

Behavior And Reproduction

Drongos are notorious for aggressive behavior. They will fiercely defend their nests, and attack or harass predators like birds of prey, hornbills, crows, snakes, and humans. Drongos are accomplished, acrobatic flyers. In one recorded instance, a drongo individual escaped the clutches of a little sparrowhawk, which was chasing it in mid-air, by aerial acrobatics, outmaneuvering the predator.

Drongos forage, search for food, alone, in pairs, or in groups. The birds catch insects in mid-flight, often following larger animals such as deer, cattle, or monkeys in order to catch insects flushed out by the larger animals' motions. They may even follow grass fires, snagging insects escaping the flames. Drongos also glean (pluck) insects from foliage and probe under bark for insects and related creatures. They may also forage in mixed-species flocks of one or more other bird species. Some drongo species just share in the abundance of insects driven out of hiding by the mixed-species flocks. Other species, especially during lean times, join mixed-species flocks but engage in kleptoparasitism, stealing food from other birds. They rob either directly, or, as in the forktailed drongos, by distracting another bird with alarm calls as it sees and closes in on an insect, then zooming in and snagging the insect.

When feeding on insects in mid-flight, drongos use long, wire-like bristles at the base of the beak, to guide insects into the beak. The bristles are modified feathers.

Drongos have an incredibly varied repertoire of voice sounds, even within a species, and often imitate the calls of other bird species. Some species imitate calls of birds of prey, if disturbed at nesting sites, to scare off intruders. One call of the spangled drongo sounds metallic, resembling the plucking of a taut wire.

Drongos form monogamous (muh-NAH-guh-mus) mating pairs. Male and female contribute in building the nest, incubating the eggs (keeping them warm for hatching), and caring for the young. Nests are cup-shaped, and built with a hammock-style support, hanging from horizontal tree branches or forks. Monogamous pairs fiercely defend their territory, nest, and young. Other than those few facts, very little is known about other details of breeding behavior among drongos.

Additional topics

Animal Life ResourceBirdsDrongos: Dicruridae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Square-tailed Drongo (dicrurus Ludwigii): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, DRONGOS AND PEOPLE, CONSERVATION STATUS