Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus dicruroides)


French: Coucou à queue fourchue German: Gabelschwanz-Drongokuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo drongo coliahorquillado

Pseudornis Dicruroïdes


, 1839,

mountains of Nepal


Closely related to S. lugubris, S. velutinus and S. musschenbroeki, with which commonly considered conspecific, but evidence assembled by recent authors#R#R indicates that it differs in its distinct song (allow 3); forked tail (2); finer bill and shorter primary extension than lugubris (1+1=2) and glossy crown and mantle vs matt velvet black in musschenbroeki and velutinus (2). HBW recognized no variation within populations of S. dicruroides; subsequently, however, one author recognized race barussarum and treated stewarti as a race of S. lugubris#R, while another treatment transferred barussarum to S. lugubris but placed stewarti with present species#R. Latter arrangement followed here, but situation complex and further substantiation desirable. Two subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. d. dicruroides (Hodgson, 1839) – Himalayas and the Indian Subcontinent.
  • S. d. stewarti E.C.S. Baker, 1920 – Sri Lanka.
  • Descriptive notes

    25 cm; 32·5–50·5 g. Smallish cuckoo with forked tail. Adult is black glossed steel-blue, though less so on head and upper back, often with concealed white spot on nape, long... read more


    Song comprises a 5–6 loud piping whistles that rise up the scale, with second note lower or level... read more


    Inhabits broadleaved and mixed forests, including scrub jungle, dry forests and bamboo-dominated... read more

    Food and feeding

    Diet apparently mostly insects, with an accent on caterpillars, but also some fruit, e.g. Ficus figs. Gleans food on branches and... read more


    Breeds Jun in Nepal, Mar–Oct in N India, Jun–Sept in Madhya Pradesh (C India), Jan–March in Kerala (S India), Dec–May in Sri Lanka, based... read more


    Resident (e.g. in S India, Sri Lanka), seasonally migratory and nomadic, appearing with monsoon... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Like many other forest birds, this species is subject to the effects of widespread habitat destruction throughout its range, but... read more

    Recommended citation

    del Hoyo, J., Collar, N. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus dicruroides). 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 27 February 2020).