BRIGGSY’S BIRDS: Drongo is no fool
The Spangled Drongo has glossy black plumage, with iridescent blue-green spots (spangles), a long forked tail and blood red eyes. Sexes are similar, but the female is slightly smaller.
Occasional white spotting can be seen on the upper wings of both sexes.
Young birds are more sooty black without the spangles and the eye is brown.
The Drongo is a family of birds with many species worldwide and the word is derived from the indigenous language of Madagascar.
In Australia the word is used as slang to mean silly or stupid which is thought to have originated from the name of an unsuccessful racehorse of the 1920s.
It is usually seen perched on an open branch or power line, where it awaits a passing insect.
Once seen, its prey is pursued in an acrobatic display, and is caught in the drongo’s slightly hooked bill.
The Spangled Drongo then returns to its perch to eat its victim.
The prey is guided into the bill with the assistance of sensitive, long, wire-like bristles bordering the bill (rictal bristles).
Insects are also taken from foliage and from under bark; fruit and nectar also form part of its diet.
They will usually start breeding in mid-November, building a “hammock” nest of twigs, vine tendrils and grasses, held together with spider web.
It is placed in a horizontal fork of tree, normally toward outer edges and up to 10m – 20m above the ground.
Both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young. Spangled Drongos actively defend the nest against intruders.
They have a very cratchy metallic sounding call like a stretched wire being plucked and are known to mimic the calls of other birds.
Good places to see them are Tondoon Botanic Gardens and Canoe Point Reserve.
Allan Briggs is the secretary of BirdLife Capricornia, contact him with your bird questions at firstname.lastname@example.org