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21

Spangled Drongo

(Dicrurus bracteatus)
Alternate name(s): "Drongo", "Fishtail", "Drongo-shrike"; Misnomer: "King-crow"
Size: 28-32 cm
Weight: 70-105 g

Similar species

Description     Classification     Distribution     Sightings     Photos     Breeding     Nest     Eggs     Behaviour     Food     Call/s

Physical description

Click here for a physical description

Taxonomy, classification

See Spangled Drongo at Wikipedia .

Range, habitat, finding this species

Click here for information on habitat and range

Sightings

Click here for sighting information

Photos

Race "bracteatus"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Frontal view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Frontal view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2014]

Close-up near-frontal view of a Spangled Drongo with its eyebrows raised into something resembling a double crest
(photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Close-up near-frontal view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Sandy Camp Wetlands, Brisbane, QLD, April 2018]

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, May 2013]

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Dorsal view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2013]

Close-up ventral view of a Spangled Drongo in flight (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, July 2014]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of two Spangled Drongos, with an adult on the left and a juvenile on the right (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2014]

Frontal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of C. Hayne)

Frontal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, January 2011]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, January 2011]

Close-up lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of L. Tonnochy)
[Near Townsville, QLD, January 2011]

Lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo seen far South (photo courtesy of R. Plumtree)
[Near Ensay South, East Gippsland, VIC, May 2008]

Dorsal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo
[Wetlands of Capricorn Resort, Yeppoon, July 2009; see credits page for details]

Race "baileyi"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, April 2017]

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Dorsal view of a Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Darwin, NT, July 2013]

Dorsal view of two Spangled Drongos
[Botanic Gardens, Darwin, NT, August 2014]

Direct comparison of the size of a Spangled Drongo with a Bar-shouldered Dove (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, April 2017]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Frontal view of an immature Spangled Drongo; note the brown irises (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Lateral view of an immature Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, October 2019]

Near-frontal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo; note the dark irises, white throat spots and the white tips of the undertail coverts (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, April 2017]

Lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo devouring a large cicada (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, April 2017]

Lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo devouring a large cicada - gone down the chute... (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, April 2017]

Lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo; this bird was heard begging for food (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Rapid Creek, Darwin, NT, May 2018]

Race "atrabectus"

ADULT

Sex unknown

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo going for a drink (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, January 2012]

Near-dorsal view of a Spangled Drongo going for a drink (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, August 2010]

Spangled Drongo waiting to pick off insects disturbed by foraging Grey-crowned Babblers (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, July 2011]

IMMATURE/JUVENILE

Dorsal view of an immature Spangled Drongo; note the brown-tinged flight juvenile feathers (photo courtesy of B. Hensen)
[Iron Range NP, QLD, November 2018]

Close-up lateral view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Cairns, QLD, July 2018]

Close-up dorsal view of a juvenile Spangled Drongo (photo courtesy of M. Eaton)
[Cairns, QLD, July 2018]

Breeding information

Breeding season: Oct - Jan Eggs: 3 - 5 Incubation period: 14 - 16 days Fledging age: ?

The breeding season of Spangled Drongos depends on geographic latitude and can, in principle, extend from August to May. The time range listed in the table above is the core breeding season.

Nest building: Female & male Incubation: Female & male Dependent care: Female & male

Nest

"bungobittah", "malunna" = nest [Aboriginal]

Type: Suspended basket Material: Vine tendrils Height above ground: 2.5 - 25 m

The nests shown below are deeper hanging basket than shown in some field guides, being more similar to those of some species of honeyeaters, rather than cuckoo-shrikes.

Note also that the nests shown here are quite low (in one case clearly less than 10 m, in the other [Acacia Hills, NT] measured at 2.6 m off the ground, in a tall tree where it could have been built much higher).

3 chicks in a Spangled Drongo nest - aged 12 days (photo courtesy of K. Ohlsen)
[Acacia Hills, NT, December 2019]

3 chicks in a Spangled Drongo nest - aged 8 days (photo courtesy of K. Ohlsen)
[Acacia Hills, NT, December 2019]

3 chicks in a Spangled Drongo nest - aged 7 days (photo courtesy of K. Ohlsen)
[Acacia Hills, NT, December 2019]

3 Spangled Drongo hatchlings in their nest (photo courtesy of K. Ohlsen)
[Acacia Hills, NT, December 2019]

Spangled Drongo on its deep hanging basket nest (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, November 2016]

Spangled Drongo on its deep hanging basket nest, now seen from behind (photo courtesy of L. Scott)
[Roseberry Creek Valley, near Toonumbar NP, northern NSW, November 2016]

Spangled Drongo sitting its nest (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Gardens, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

Spangled Drongo sitting its nest (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Botanical Gardens, Darwin, NT, November 2018]

Eggs

"boyanga", "booyanga", "derinya", "dirandil", "koomura", "ngampu", "nooluk", "pateena" = Egg; "dirundirri" = eggs [Aboriginal]; "gawu" = eggs [gamilaraay]

Size: 30 x 20 mm Colour: Creamy, with light- to mid-brown speckles Shape: Elliptical

Behaviour

Social behaviour: Territorial/communal Mobility: Sedentary/migratory Elementary unit: Mob

Dorsal view of a Spangled Drongo in an excited state, in this case demanding food - note the double "crest" and the fanned tail while calling (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, June 2014]

This Spangled Drongo was observed hustling a Willie Wagtail (photo courtesy of C. Booker)
[Thornlands, Redlands, QLD, June 2013]

Spangled Drongo waiting to pick off insects disturbed by foraging Grey-crowned Babblers (photo courtesy of R. Russell)
[Mount Molloy, QLD, July 2011]

Lateral view of a Spangled Drongo before going into the bathtub... (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, October 2016]

... and here one seen after taking a bath, drying its feathers (photo courtesy of A. Campbell)
[Mount McEuen, QLD, February 2017]

Food, Diet

Spangled Drongos usually hunt insect in flight, but will take spiders and beetles from tree bark and small lizards as well.

Spangled Drongo with a gecko it has just caught; click here to see how a Spangled Drongo turns its prey before swallowing (photo courtesy of P. Brown)
[Darwin, NT, January 2018]

Frontal view of a Spangled Drongo feeding on the nectar of a Callistemon (bottlebrush) (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2013]

Frontal view of a Spangled Drongo feeding on the nectar of a grevillea (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2013]

Frontal view of a Spangled Drongo scavenging a piece of meat (photo courtesy of A. Ross-Taylor)
[Highland Park, Gold Coast, QLD, August 2012]

Call(s)/Song

For this species we have recorded the following call(s)/song. The interpretation of their meaning is our own; comments and suggestions for improvement are welcome.

spdrong_art_20140114.m4a bracteatus
(SE QLD)
Contact calls © ART
spdrong_nc_20150425.m4a bracteatus
(NE NSW)
Contact calls(?) © NC
spdrong_art_20131115.m4a bracteatus
(SE QLD)
Alarm call(?) © ART
spdrong_art_20140421.m4a bracteatus
(SE QLD)
Idle chatter (early morning) © ART
 
spdrong_pb_20181105.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Contact calls(?) Q&A © PB
spdrong_20140820_2.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Upset/annoyed? © MD
spdrong_20140820.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Upset/annoyed? © MD
intract_pb_20180503.m4a (Darwin, NT) Alarmed by Black Butcherbird (+ Magpie-lark) © PB
spdrong_pb_20180726_2.m4a (Darwin, NT) (Hunting) © PB
spdrong_pb_20190220.m4a (Darwin, NT) Various © PB
spdrong_20140820_5.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Various © MD
spdrong_20140820_4.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Various © MD
spdrong_pb_20180110.m4a baileyi
(Darwin, NT)
Feeding calls? © PB

These pages are largely based on our own observations and those of our contributors. The structure of these bird pages is explained HERE. For more salient facts on any bird species please refer to a field guide.

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