Family Drongos (Dicruridae)

Least Concern

Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus)


French: Drongo à crinière German: Haarbuschdrongo Spanish: Drongo crestudo

Corvus hottentottus


, 1766,

Cape of Good Hope; error = Chandernagor [Chandannagar], West Bengal, India


Hitherto considered to include D. striatus (which see), and several other taxa may well merit elevation to species rank in view of differences among taxa in hair-crest presence, iris colour, and bill and tail structure; detailed analysis of morphology, voice (highly variable within taxa#R) and genetics required. Formerly considered conspecific with D. sumatranus, D. densus, D. menagei, D. montanus and D. bracteatus. Subspecies groups shown below are based on taxonomic splits made in recent field guide#R, which presents morphological and vocal differences to support separation; nevertheless, comprehensive analysis#R reveals that evaluation of vocal differences in this group is very difficult as vocabulary of each group (including mimicry) appears to be even wider than already known, and we therefore make only subspecies groups, rather than full splits at species level. Race banggaiensis sometimes synonymized with pectoralis or leucops, and seems closer to latter. Clinal decrease in size from N to S, birds in C India being similar to those of Myanmar and Thailand, intermediate between those of Himalayan foothills and those of S India (extreme length of male tail 149–164 mm in Himalayas, 132–155 in C India, 114–128 in SW India). Nominate race intergrades with brevirostris from S China (W Yunnan) and N Myanmar E to N Vietnam. Proposed race chrishna (Nepal foothills), allegedly larger than specimens from C & S India, appears indistinguishable from nominate; termeuleni (Jakarta Bay, in W Java) considered inseparable from jentincki, but further study required. Twelve subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. h. hottentottus (Linnaeus, 1766) – Hair-crested Drongo – peninsular India (Western Ghats; West Bengal and Odisha S through Eastern Ghats to N Tamil Nadu), and Himalayan foothills from Jammu and Kashmir#R, E Punjab and Himachal Pradesh E to Bangladesh and NE India (Arunachal Pradesh, S Assam hills), N, C & S Myanmar (S to Tenasserim), N Thailand, S China (SE Xizang, W Yunnan), Cambodia, S Laos and S Vietnam.
  • D. h. brevirostris (Cabanis, 1851) – C & S China (S from Hebei and Jiangsu), N Myanmar, N Laos and N & C Vietnam; non-breeding throughout Indochina, Thailand and lower Myanmar.
  • D. h. palawanensis Tweeddale, 1878 – Palawan Drongo – W Philippines (Busuanga, Culion, Palawan, Balabac and Cagayan Sulu).
  • D. h. cuyensis (McGregor, 1903) – Cuyo Drongo – WC Philippines (Semirara, Cuyo).
  • D. h. suluensis E. J. O. Hartert, 1902 – Sulu Drongo – SW Sulu Archipelago (Jolo, Lapac, Tawitawi, Simunul and Sibutu), in SW Philippines, and Maratua I (off E Borneo).
  • D. h. borneensis (Sharpe, 1879) – Bornean Blue Drongo – Borneo.
  • D. h. leucops Wallace, 1865 – White-eyed Drongo – mainland Sulawesi and surrounding archipelagos to NE, SE & S; Matasiri I (in Java Sea).
  • D. h. banggaiensis Vaurie, 1952 – Banggai Is, off E Sulawesi.
  • D. h. pectoralis Wallace, 1863 – Sula Drongo – Sula Is, off E Sulawesi.
  • D. h. guillemardi (Salvadori, 1890) – Obi Drongo – Obi (C Moluccas).
  • D. h. faberi Hoogerwerf, 1962 – Panaitan (Prinsen) I and islands in Jakarta Bay, in W Java.
  • D. h. jentincki (Vorderman, 1893) – Javan Drongo – E Java, Bali, and islands in Java Sea (Masalembu Besar and Kangean Is).
  • Descriptive notes

    c. 32 cm (nominate), 28 cm (brevirostris), 25·5 cm (borneensis), 26–32 cm (leucops), 24 cm (palawanensis); four males 86... read more


    Especially noisy in breeding season. Very variable. Songs start with mostly loud, harsh, incisive... read more


    Essentially a forest-dweller. Inhabits mostly broadleaf evergreen and moist deciduous forest,... read more

    Food and feeding

    Food mainly insects and nectar, in variable proportions. Large variety of insects captured, including hornets and wasps (Hymenoptera), ants... read more


    Season poorly documented: Apr–late Jun in N Indian Subcontinent, Feb–Apr in S India, Apr–Jul in SE Asia (late Mar–... read more


    Generally resident, except in N part of range. Most Chinese breeders (race brevirostris)... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened (Least Concern). Fairly common in Nepal and Bhutan, locally common in Himalayan foothills in India, also in Bangladesh; uncommon in Indian peninsula... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rocamora, G., Yeatman-Berthelot, D., Christie, D.A. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus). 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 10 April 2020).