Sunday, April 1, 2012

White-bellied Drongo (Dicrurus caerulescens)

  • 24cm. A small drongo.
  • Black upperparts
  • Slaty grey throat and breast
  • White belly and vent:
  • Extensively in India
  • More limited in the dry zone of Sri Lanka (insularis)
  • Only white vent in wet zone of Sri Lanka (leucopygialis)
  • Relatively short, moderately forked tail
  • Sexes alike, females are slightly smaller. Juveniles are dark brown above, brown on throat and breast and have some white barring on breast.

Similar species

Juveniles of Black Drongo, Ashy Drongo and Crow-billed Drongo may have considerable white on vent but these areas look scalier, not solid white


Three subspecies recognized:

  1. D. c. caerulescens (Indian White-bellied Drongo) on the Indian Peninsula from Haryana and eastern Gujarat east along lower slopes of the Himalayas to south Nepal and to west Bengal and central Orissa.
  2. D. c. insularis (Ceylon White-bellied Drongo) in north and southeast Sri Lanka.
  3. D. c. leucopygialis (White-vented Drongo) in southwest Sri Lanka.


Open forest and well-wooded habitats. Occurs up to 2000m in the Himalayas, up to 1500m in South India.

  • Feeds mostly on insects, takes sometimes small birds. Occasionally pirates food from other birds.
  • Perches upright on a branch or treetrop and flies out from there with agility, snapping up prey in bill or claws. 
  • Breeding season March to June in most of its range, insularis breeds from February to June, leucopygialis from March to May. The nest is a large and bulky cup made of grass and twigs. It's placed 3 - 9m above the ground in a tree. Lays 2 - 3 eggs, 2 - 4 in Sri Lanka. 
  • A resident species. In India some seasonal local and altitudinal movements, eg in Gujarat.