Family Cuckoos (Cuculidae)

Least Concern

Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris)


French: Coucou surnicou German: Drongokuckuck Spanish: Cuclillo drongo colitruncado
Other common names: Drongo Cuckoo (when lumped with the other members of genus)

Cuculus lugubris


, 1821,



Closely related to S. dicruroides, S. velutinus and S. musschenbroeki, with which commonly considered conspecific, but evidence assembled by recent authors#R#R indicates that it merits species status based on characters outlined under those species. Race brachyurus (recognized in HBW) belongs in present species; it has also recently been considered a race of S. dicruroides#R or alternatively synonymized with barussarum#R; further study required. Population of SW Philippines sometimes treated as race minimus. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • S. l. barussarum Oberholser, 1912 – NE India, N Myanmar, N Thailand, N Indochina, and SC & SE China (Sichuan, Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, Guangdong, Fujian, Hainan); winters S to Sumatra.
  • S. l. brachyurus Stresemann, 1913 – Himalayas from Kashmir E to NE India and Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand S through the Malay Peninsula to Sumatra, Borneo and SW Philippines (Balabac, Palawan, Calauit).
  • S. l. lugubris (Horsfield, 1821) – Java and Bali.
  • Descriptive notes

    24–25 cm; 26–43·6 g. Adult glossy blue-black with greener wing-coverts, inner secondaries and tertials, and brownish tinge to breast, belly and vent, tail... read more


    Calls regularly from exposed dead branches. Territorial call comprises a fast, ascending “pi-... read more


    Forests (including semi-evergreen, swamp and riparian forests in Assam, lowland dipterocarp and... read more

    Food and feeding

    Insects, caterpillars (hairy and hairless: Pieridae, Lasiocampidae, Limadodidae), other soft insects, beetles, swarming termits, spiders;... read more


    Season mid Apr–Jul (peaking May–Jun) in Assam (NE India), Apr and Jun in Bangladesh, Apr in Myanmar, May–Jul in Thai-... read more


    Resident over most of range except in the extreme N of range, where it is a summer migrant to NE... 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

    Payne, R. & Kirwan, G.M. (2020). Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris). 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 17 February 2020).