Family Drongos (Dicruridae)

Least Concern

Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus)


French: Drongo royal German: Königsdrongo Spanish: Drongo real

Dicrurus macrocercus


, 1817,

Madras City [Chennai], Tamil Nadu, India


In past, often treated as conspecific with D. adsimilis, but differs slightly in plumage and significantly in proportions and voice; possible close relationship between the two supported by DNA studies#R. Race albirictus intergrades with nominate in SE Pakistan and across C India (in narrow band roughly from Kutch E to S West Bengal) and with cathoecus in NW Myanmar; cathoecus and thai may intergrade in N Thailand. Seven subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. m. albirictus (Hodgson, 1836) – Himalayas from E Afghanistan and N & E Pakistan E to W & extreme N Myanmar and S China (SE Xizang), S to SE Pakistan (E from Indus Valley) and across C India (S to Gujarat, N Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal); formerly SE Iran; non-breeding also S to S India, C & S Myanmar and N Thailand.
  • D. m. macrocercus Vieillot, 1817 – SE Pakistan and peninsular India S from Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and West Bengal.
  • D. m. minor Blyth, 1850 – N & NW Sri Lanka (S, in W, to Puttalam), including Mannar I.
  • D. m. cathoecus Swinhoe, 1871 – C, E & S China (E from Qinghai, S from Jilin; including Hainan), Myanmar (except W & N), N Thailand and N Indochina; non-breeding S to SW & S Myanmar, S Malay Peninsula (Singapore) and S Indochina.
  • D. m. thai Kloss, 1921 – S Myanmar (Tenasserim), C & E Thailand, probably E Cambodia, and S Indochina.
  • D. m. harterti E. C. S. Baker, 1918 – Taiwan.
  • D. m. javanus Kloss, 1921 – Java and Bali.
  • Introduced (race harterti) in S Northern Marianas (on Rota I), from where colonized Guam.

    Descriptive notes

    c. 30–31 cm (nominate), 27–28·5 cm (thai), average male 27·9 cm and female 26·9 cm (harterti), c. 26 cm (minor);... read more


    Powerful and harsh vocalizations. Particularly noisy at start of breeding season, mainly during two... read more


    Mostly open country and farmland with scattered trees; very common also in villages and suburbs,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food predominantly insects (often agricultural pests), including locusts, grasshoppers and crickets (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera),... read more


    Season Mar–Jun in Pakistan, Mar–Aug (principally mid-Apr to end Jun, sometimes second brood Jul–Aug) in India, and Mar... read more


    N populations migratory or partly migratory. Those in NW of range (race albirictus) winter... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Common throughout range in Indian Subcontinent; race albirictus formerly occurred also in SE Iran. Common resident and... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rocamora, G. & Yeatman-Berthelot, D. (2019). Black Drongo (Dicrurus macrocercus). 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 May 2019).