Spangled Drongo Bird Species Information, Diet, Characteristics

Spangled Drongo Bird

The Spangled Drongo is characterized by glossy black plumage which has a metallic sheen, coupled with iridescent blue, purple and green highlights. These spots or spangles give it the name ‘spangled’. The tail is remarkably long with a distinctive fork, and it has bright blood-red eyes. Occasionally white spots are found on the under-wings and breasts. Bordering its bill are long, sensitive wire-like bristles called rictal bristles, which help it to guide its food into its bill. Both sexes look alike, with the only a slight difference in size – the female being a little smaller. In young birds, the eyes are brown, the black is more sooty than glossy, and there are no spangles. It varies in size from 30 to 33 cm long. Although mostly silent, the Spangled Drongo has an astonishingly loud voice and can be quite noisy when it wishes to. It is an amazing mimic, and can weave entertaining and complex calls into its extensive vocabulary. While some sound raucous, others are like a soft ‘sneeze’.

Spangled Drongo Habitat

Spangled Drongos are commonly found throughout eastern and northern Australia. In fact, it probably gets its name from the Australian slang ‘drongo’ which means ‘idiot’, possibly because of the bird’s comical and uninhibited behavior as it calls and swoops down in search of food. They are migratory birds and the Spangled Drongo and some of its related species are also found in Tasmania, New Guinea, Indonesia, throughout south-east Asia, China, Philippines, India and even up to some south-west Pacific islands. They generally avoid the interiors of dense forests preferring more open woodlands and wet forests, and also mangroves and parks. They are usually seen singly or in pairs. While Spangled Drongos also eat fruits and nectar, they prefer to eat insects. They are usually seen perching on open branches or telegraph wires, awaiting a passing insect. The moment they spot their prey, they pursue it in a graceful, acrobatic display, and catch them easily while in flight. It returns to its perch to eat. Drongos also love to eat scraps of meat, and many people make them regular garden birds, by throwing them small bits of mince, just to watch their acrobatic displays. Spangled Drongos usually have one clutch per season. Both adults share in making a simple, shallow cup-shaped nest made of grasses, twigs and vine tendrils, held in place with spider web. This is usually built about 10 to 20 meters above the ground in the fork of a tree.

Both adults co-operate in incubating the eggs, and in aggressively defending their nest and in caring for the young