Family Drongos (Dicruridae)

Least Concern

Velvet-mantled Drongo (Dicrurus modestus)


French: Drongo modeste German: Samtdrongo Spanish: Drongo modesto

Dicrurus modestus


, 1849,

Príncipe, Gulf of Guinea


Studies needed to clarify taxonomic position of races coracinus and atactus, which intergrade fully in SW Nigeria (Ondo and Benin Provinces) and Cameroon. Moreover, coracinus and race divaricatus of D. adsimilis behave more or less as distinct species, differing in behaviour, voice and plumage, with limited hybridization in areas of range overlap (apparent hybrids reported in Nigeria, DRCongo and Angola); atactus initially described as a possible hybrid between those two taxa. Nominate modestus usually treated as a separate species in studies of Príncipe birds#R#R#R, but only evidence presented concerns certain stereotypic calls not found in mainland forms#R; formal study needed. Proposed race ugandensis regarded as a synonym of coracinus. Three subspecies currently recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • D. m. atactus Oberholser, 1899 – Sierra Leone, S Guinea, Liberia, Ivory Coast, SW Ghana (S from Kintampo and Tafo), S Togo, S Benin and SW Nigeria.
  • D. m. coracinus J. P. Verreaux & J. B. É. Verreaux, 1851 – Velvet-mantled Drongo – S Nigeria, Bioko, S Cameroon and SW Central African Republic (Lobaye) E to extreme SW South Sudan (Bengegai), W & S Uganda and W Kenya (Kakamega), S to Gabon, Congo, NW Angola and C DRCongo (S to Kasai and Maniema).
  • D. m. modestus Hartlaub, 1849 – Principe Drongo – Príncipe I, in Gulf of Guinea.
  • Descriptive notes

    24–28 cm; 44–53 g (mainland races). Nominate race has head and underparts deep velvety black, unglossed except for slight greenish-blue sheen on forehead and... read more


    Extensive and very varied repertoire of twangy whistles and fluty notes, nasal harsh calls and... read more


    Wide range of habitats. On Príncipe, nominate race found in practically all main types of... read more

    Food and feeding

    Mainly insectivorous, feeding on grasshoppers (Orthoptera), beetles (Coleoptera), termites (Isoptera), cicadas (Cicadidae), mantids (... read more


    Nestlings and fledglings in May–Jun in Liberia, season Dec–Feb in S Ghana; breeds May–Jun and Oct–Nov, possibly all... read more



    Status and conservation

    Not assessed. Thought not to be globally threatened. Widespread and locally common; scarce in some parts of range, as in S Benin (Pobe) and extreme SW Nigeria (atactus... read more

    Recommended citation

    Rocamora, G. & Yeatman-Berthelot, D. (2019). Velvet-mantled Drongo (Dicrurus modestus). 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 22 March 2019).