13 May 2017

Greater Racket Tailed Drongo

Some months ago bird enthusiasts spotted and reported sighting for the first time, the Greater Racket-tailed Drongo. 

Racket-tailed Drongos (Tamil=Kondai Korichan) known for their long tail with two ‘rackets’ on either side are generally seen in thick, well shaded forests. Enthusiasts state that spotting this Drongo species at Tiruvannamalai is testimony that afforestation drives over recent years is improving tree cover in and around Arunachala. 

One bird watcher reports that previously: “The nearest place where Drongos were reported to have been seen earlier was Javadi Hills. Recently, we spotted the bird along the path leading to Skandashram which is less a mile from Ramanashram.” 

Another local bird watcher reports he also spotted the bird in the valley near the path leading to Skandashram. “I have heard that people had spotted Greater Racket Tailed Drongo in Amirthi in Javadi Hills. 

I have spotted them in Sittilingi. It is a surprise to see them here. They need good shade and thick shrubs to live. Thickets have visibly improved in the valley in recent times and the fact is proved by the new beautiful visitor to the place.” 

Adult Drongo

2 Adult Greater Racket Tailed Drongos

Racket Tailed in Flight

Bird with insect

Racket Tailed Drongos pecking at Tree Bark

Racket Tailed Drongo at Nest

Fledgling Racket Tailed Drongo

Juvenile Bird

Racket Tailed on Indian Coral Tree

Crest on birds varies in shape and size

The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus Paradiseus) 

This Drongo is about the size of a Mynah bird. Its glossy black with prominently tufted forehead and two long wire-like spatula-tipped feathers or “streamers” at the end of the tail. In flight the broad tips sometimes give the illusion of the bird being pursued by a pair of large bumble bees. 

Young birds are duller, and can lack a crest while moulting birds can lack the elongated tail streamers. The racket is formed by the inner web of the vane but appears to be on the outer web since the rachis has a twist just above the spatula. 

The bird prefers moist-deciduous forests on the plains and hills. The sexes are alike and the bird moves singly or in groups. The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo is a very noisy bird with a large repertoire of loud metallic calls. It is an excellent mimic which it assumes to confuse other birds when hunting. Their calls are extremely varied and include monotonously repeated whistles, metallic and nasal sounds as well as more complex notes and imitations of other birds. They begin calling from as early as 4 a.m., in moonlight often with a metallic tunk-tunk-tunk series. They have been said to imitate raptor calls so as to alarm other birds and steal prey from them in the ensuing panic. They are also known to imitate the calls of species (known sometimes even to fluff up and moving head and body like a Jungle Babbler) that typically are members of mixed-species flocks and it has been suggested that this has a role in the formation of mixed-species flocks. 

This Drongo feeds mainly on insects but also on fruits and flowering trees for nectar. Having short legs, they sit upright and are often perched on high and exposed branches. They are aggressive and will sometimes mob larger birds especially when nesting. They are often active at dusk. 

The Greater Racket-tailed Drongo is a resident breeder throughout its range. The breeding season in India is April to August. Their courtship display may involve hops and turns on branches with play behaviour involving dropping an object and picking it in mid air. Their cup nest is built in the fork of a tree and the usual clutch is three to four eggs. The eggs are creamy white with blotches of reddish brown which are more dense on the broad end. 

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful post. Amazing photographs too. You have put so much effort into this.