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Fork-Tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis)

It is a clever, trickster, red-eyed bird with entirely black plumage and a narrow tail that fans like a fork, for which it is named. Pairs or solitary birds frequent various habitats, such as woodland, savannas, and farmlands, while absent in arid zones. It is a loud, vocal bird, often singing uncanorous notes, sometimes copying other birds’ calls. This bird is feisty and fearless, attacking larger birds if their nest or offspring are threatened.

Read further to know more about the Fork-Tailed Drongo.

What is a Fork-Tailed Drongo?

Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), also known as the African drongo, savanna drongo, or the common drongo, is a bird species belonging to the family Dicruridae, a group of Old World passerine birds. It is common and spread throughout the tropics, subtropics, and temperate regions of sub-Saharan Africa, previously deemed to occur in Asia, but their Asian counterparts are now considered as a separate species.

Its seven levels of classification are as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class:  Aves

Order: Passeriformes

Family: Dicruridae

Genus: Dicrurus

Species: D. adsimilis

Fork-Tailed Drongo Physical Description

Fork-tailed Drongos are medium-sized passerine birds, growing 9.8 inches or 25 centimeters, and weighing about 50 grams. Adult males mainly sport a glossy black plumage, but subtle on the wings. Females are also entirely black, though less shiny than males. They have a large head, red eyes, and a short black and hefty bill. Its rectrices splay outwards, producing a forked tail, where the species got its name.

Where can they be spotted?

Fork-tailed Drongos occur in much of sub-Saharan Africa, only absent in extremely arid zones. Large populations can be found in Botswana, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe, and South Africa, preferring woodland and savannas. They can also be seen in tree plantations, farmlands, gardens, forest edges, grassland with sparse trees, and parks.

Interesting Facts You Should Know About the Fork-Tailed Drongo

Fork-tailed Drongos are highly-adaptable birds, feeding on various animal prey, mostly insects, and small birds, lizards, and fish. These aggressive and fearless birds are renowned for being bullies and for their kleptoparasitic behavior. They habitually steal food from other animals, diving and pecking on their victims, forcing them to flee and leave their food.

What’s remarkable is that these birds have the distinct ability to copy and mimic other animals’ calls, using it to create a distraction. They can be seen perching on trees, keenly waiting for meerkats, or mongooses to find food. Once these mammals catch prey, Fork-tailed Drongos mimic their alarm call, snatching up the mammals’ hard-earned food items left behind or dropped amid the confusion.

These don’t just play their tricks on smaller animals. They hate when large predators roam around their area and will do their best to ward them off. Ford-tailed will make alarm calls to annoy leopards and other big cats of Africa. Birds of prey also don’t deter these gutsy drongos. They will mob, harass, and peck raptors, forcing them to move out of their territory. They will also become aggressive if they feel their nest or young are threatened.

Fork-tailed Drongos are monogamous birds. The egg-laying season takes place from August to January, peaking from September to October. The nest is characterized by a thin shallow cup, made of leaves, stems, and twigs, suspended between tree branches. The female will lay 2 to 4 eggs, which the pair will incubate for about 15 to 18 days. After hatching, both parents will feed the broods, leaving the nest in about 16 to 22 days.

These birds are common and spread throughout its vast range. The species is currently listed as Least Concern (LC) under the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

WILDLIFE PARKS AND RESERVES WHERE THIS SPECIES IS FOUND:

BOTSWANA

Central Kalahari Game Reserve

Chobe National Park

Linyanti Swamp

Makgadikgadi Pan

Mashatu Game Reserve

Okavango Delta

Moremi Game Reserve

Savute

SOUTH AFRICA

Addo Elephant National Park

Cape Peninsula National Park

Hluhluwe Game Reserves

Kalahari Gemsbok National Park

Knysna Lagoon

Kruger National Park

Madikwe Game Reserve

St Lucia Wetlands

NAMIBIA

Caprivi Region

Damaraland

Etosha National Park

Namib-Naukluft National Park

Skeleton Coast

ZAMBIA

Kafue

Lechwe Plains

Lower Zambezi

South Luangwa

Mosi-oa-Tunya National Park

ZIMBABWE

Gona-re-Zhou

Hwange

Lake Kariba

Mana Pools

Matobo Hills

Victoria Falls

Fork-tailed Drongo
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