Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Philippine Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus velutinus)


French: Coucou velouté German: Philippinen-Drongokuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo drongo filipino

Surniculus velutinus


, 1877,

Malamaui, Philippines


Closely related to S. dicruroides, S. lugubris and S. musschenbroeki, and commonly considered conspecific, but already treated as separate species in HBW; evidence assembled by one author#R indicates that it differs in distinct song (allow 3); greatly reduced white barring on undertail-coverts and undertail (2); purplish-black unglossed plumage unlike that of lugubris and dicruroides (2); shorter tail (based on data for males#R, effect size compared with next shortest form, lugubris, –5.1; score 3); different juvenile plumage (plain rufous-brown vs white-spotted blackish) (3). Sometimes treated as monotypic. Three subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. v. chalybaeus Salomonsen, 1953 – N & WC Philippines (Luzon, Mindoro, Negros); also recorded on Panay#R.
  • S. v. velutinus Sharpe, 1877 – S Philippines (E Visayas, Mindanao, Basilan).
  • S. v. suluensis Salomonsen, 1953 – extreme S Philippines (Jolo, Tawitawi and Bongao, in Sulu Is).
  • Descriptive notes

    23 cm; 36 g. Adult blackish, head and mantle velvety (not glossy, as in S. lugubris), wings and tail glossy purplish, blue or green, tail square; white bar on... read more


    Song a series of 8–10 whistles, longer, more notes and less rise in pitch than in S.... read more


    Primary forest, secondary forest, mixed bamboo woodland. In Philippines, from sea-level to 1000 m.

    Food and feeding

    Insects. Forages in forest canopy.





    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Although this species is fairly common in primary forest in the Philippines, this habitat is being rapidly removed by logging operations; to date,... read more

    Recommended citation

    Payne, R. (2019). Philippine Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus velutinus). 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 13 December 2019).