The drongos are a family of small passerine birds of the Old World tropics, the Dicruridae. This family was sometimes[clarification needed] much enlarged to include a number of largely Australasian groups, such as the Australasian fantails, monarchs and paradise flycatchers. The name is originally from the indigenous language of Madagascar, where it refers to local species, but is now used to refer to all members of the family. The family is usually treated as having two genera, Chaetorhynchus and Dicrurus. The genus Chaetorhynchus contains a single species, the New Guinea endemic Pygmy Drongo. The placement of this species in the family is highly dubious due to both morphological and genetic differences, and it has recently been placed, along with the closely related Silktail of Fiji, with the fantails (Rhipiduridae). The remaining genus contains the remaining 25 species of drongo.
The family Dicruridae are believed to be most likely of Indo Malayan origin with a colonization of Africa about 15 million years ago. Dispersal across the Wallace Line into Australasia is estimated to have been more recent, around 6 mya.
These insectivorous birds are found in usually open forests or bush. Most are black or dark grey in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long forked tails, and some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright whilst perched, like a shrike. Racket-tailed Drongos are the mimicry artists among birds. They can mimic the sound of other birds and some animals. They flycatch or take prey from the ground.
Two to four eggs are laid in a nest high in a tree. Despite their small size, they are aggressive and fearless, and will attack much larger species if their nest or young are threatened.
The word drongo is used in Australia as a mild form of insult tantamount to the term "idiot", which may refer to the seemingly madcap attacks these birds are prone to launch.
Species of Dicruridae in taxonomic order
A phylogenetic overview of the family.
- Genus Edolius
- Square-tailed Drongo, Edolius ludwigii
- Shining Drongo, Edolius atripennis
- Ashy Drongo, Edolius leucophaeus
- Mayotte Drongo, Edolius waldenii
- Aldabra Drongo, Edolius aldabranus
- Crested Drongo, Edolius forficatus
- Grand Comoro Drongo, Edolius fuscipennis
- Velvet-mantled Drongo, Edolius modestus
- Fork-tailed Drongo, Edolius adsimilis
- Black Drongo, Edolius macrocercus
- Genus Dicrurus
- Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus remifer
- Greater Racket-tailed Drongo, Dicrurus paradiseus
- Crow-billed Drongo, Dicrurus annectans
- Sri Lanka Drongo, Dicrurus lophorinus
- Andaman Drongo, Dicrurus andamanensis
- Spangled Drongo, Dicrurus bracteatus
- Paradise Drongo, Dicrurus megarhynchus
- Hair-crested Drongo, Dicrurus hottentottus
- Sumatran Drongo, Dicrurus sumatranus
- Balicassiao, Dicrurus balicassius
- Tablas Drongo, Dicrurus menagei
- Sulawesi Drongo, Dicrurus montanus
- Wallacean Drongo, Dicrurus densus
- ^ Lindsey, Terence (1991). Forshaw, Joseph, ed. Encyclopaedia of Animals: Birds. London: Merehurst Press. pp. 223–224. ISBN 1-85391-186-0.
- ^ Irested, Martin; Fuchs J; Jønsson KA; Ohlson JI; Pasquet E & Per G.P. Ericson (2009). "The systematic affinity of the enigmatic Lamprolia victoriae (Aves: Passeriformes)—An example of avian dispersal between New Guinea and Fiji over Miocene intermittent land bridges?" (PDF). Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 48 (3): 1218–1222. PMID 18620871. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2008.05.038. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- ^ a b Eric Pasquet, Jean-Marc Pons, Jerome Fuchs, Corinne Cruaud, Vincent Bretagnolle (2007) Evolutionary history and biogeography of the drongos (Dicruridae), a tropical Old World clade of corvoid passerines. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 45:158–167
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