Family Drongos (Dicruridae)

Least Concern

Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus)


French: Drongo cendré German: Graudrongo Spanish: Drongo cenizo

Dicrurus leucophœus

[sic] Vieillot

, 1817,

“Ceylon”; error = Java


DNA studies#R place this Asian species closest to African drongos, providing evidence of dispersal from Africa c. 10 million years ago. Dark race longicaudatus and white-faced race leucogenis formerly treated as two separate species. Suggested subspecies groups somewhat tentative, as chequerboard pattern of plumage variation makes grouping of races difficult#R; here we follow recent proposal for five groups#R, which seem reasonable in both geographical and morphological terms. Subspecific taxonomy complicated, as many races not clearly differentiated, and most mainland races are highly migratory. Race hopwoodi intergrades with longicaudatus in West Bengal and Bhutan, and with mouhoti in NE Myanmar, NW & W Laos and C Vietnam; nigrescens intergrades with mouhoti in S Myanmar and with bondi in SE Thailand; in China, pale leucogenis intergrades with dark salangensis along R Yangtze, and latter may intergrade with mouhoti in N Vietnam (N Tonkin). Proposed race beavani (E Afghanistan) not reliably separable from longicaudatus. Proposed races celaenus and whiteheadi (substitute name for palawanensis, preoccupied) poorly differentiated from nominate and lumped therein in HBW; tentatively reinstated here on grounds of biogeography, also celaenus being darker “particularly on the lower parts”#R, and whiteheadi because it is marginally bluer than nominate. Original spelling “leucophoeus” is emended to “leucophaeus” based on internal evidence#R. Sixteen subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. l. longicaudatus Jerdon, 1862 – Blackish Drongo – S Himalayas from extreme E Afghanistan E to Bhutan and hills of Madhya Pradesh#R; non-breeding at lower altitudes and through Indian peninsula (except Punjab, Sind and arid parts of Rajasthan and Gujarat) S to Sri Lanka.
  • D. l. hopwoodi E. C. S. Baker, 1918 – E Himalayas (E from Bhutan), SW & S China (from E Xizang E to S Guangdong), N & C Myanmar E to N Vietnam; migrates S to West Bengal, S Assam, Bangladesh, S China (Hainan) and S Myanmar, N & E Thailand and S Laos.
  • D. l. nigrescens Oates, 1889 – S Myanmar (Tenasserim) and Malay Peninsula (W of Main Range) S (including Phuket I and Pinang I) to Johor; post-breeding dispersal S to Singapore.
  • D. l. leucogenis (Walden, 1870) – E & C China from Liaoning S (E from N Gansu and Sichuan) to NE Guangdong; migrates to S China, N Laos, E Thailand, Cambodia, Tenasserim and Malay Peninsula (both W & E coastal plains).
  • D. l. salangensis Reichenow, 1890 – SE China S of R Yangtze (to Fujian–Guangdong border); migrates S to Hainan, S Indochina, E, C & S Thailand and Malay Peninsula.
  • D. l. innexus (Swinhoe, 1870) – Chinese White-faced Drongo – Hainan.
  • D. l. mouhoti (Walden, 1870) – C, SW & E Myanmar, N & E Thailand and C Indochina; migrates to S Myanmar, S Thailand and Cambodia.
  • D. l. bondi Meyer de Schauensee, 1937 – W & E Thailand, Cambodia, S Laos and S Vietnam.
  • D. l. celaenus Oberholser, 1912 – Simeulue, off NW Sumatra.
  • D. l. leucophaeus Vieillot, 1817 – Sooty Drongo – Java, Bali and Lombok.
  • D. l. whiteheadi A. J. C. Dubois, 1901 – SW Philippines (Busuanga, Culion, Palawan and Balabac).
  • D. l. batakensis (Robinson & Kloss, 1919) – N Sumatra (Aceh and Batak Highlands).
  • D. l. phaedrus (Reichenow, 1904) – C & S Sumatra.
  • D. l. siberu Chasen & Kloss, 1926 – Siberut, off W Sumatra.
  • D. l. periophthalmicus (Salvadori, 1894) – Island White-faced Drongo – Sipura and Pagai Is, off W Sumatra.
  • D. l. stigmatops (Sharpe, 1879) – Bornean Grey Drongo – Borneo.
  • Descriptive notes

    25·5–29 cm (nominate), 23–26 cm (leucogenis); 26–28 cm, 32–45 g (longicaudatus); 26–30 cm, 40–55 g (hop­... read more


    Fairly pleasant and somewhat monotonous vocalizations; sometimes silent for long periods. Songs... read more


    Essentially a forest bird, mainly in mountain areas, preferring more open forest; occurs in... read more

    Food and feeding

    Principally insectivorous; some small vertebrates also taken. Consumer of nectar, among the most regular visitors at Bombax and... read more


    Season May–Jun in Himalayas, chiefly Apr–Jun in China and Apr in C Myanmar; Mar–May on Sumatra, and Jan–Aug (peak... read more


    Migratory in N of range. Mainly resident in Indonesia, but roaming widely outside breeding season.... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Generally common throughout mainland range; race nigrescens nowhere common within its range, and vulnerable to loss of... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rocamora, G. & Yeatman-Berthelot, D. (2020). Ashy Drongo (Dicrurus leucophaeus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 23 February 2020).