Spangled Drongo

Did you know?

Spangled Drongos frequently flock together to 'hawk' flying insects for food.

A variety of sounds, including some distinctive metallic notes like a stretched wire being plucked, and occasional mimicry of other bird species.
Facts and Figures
Research Species: 
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Maximum Size: 
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Breeding season: 
September to March
Clutch Size: 
3 to 5
Conservation Status
Basic Information
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What does it look like?

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 Spangled Drongo is noisy and conspicuous, usually active, and frequently aggressive to other species.

Similar species: 

Several other species are glossy black with red eyes. The Metallic Starling, Aplonis metallica, (21 cm - 24 cm) is found on the north-east coast, and has black plumage, brightly glossed with green and purple, a bright red eye and long tapered tail. The Trumpet Manucode,Manucodia keraundrenii, (28 cm - 32 cm) is restricted to northern Cape York Peninsula; it has slender plumes on the nape and throat. The adult male Common Koel, Eudynamys scolopacea, (40 cm - 46 cm) is larger and lacks the spangles and fish tail.

Where does it live?

Spangled Drongos are found throughout northern and eastern Australia. Also found in New Guinea and eastern Indonesia. Closely related species occur through south-east Asia to India, China, and the Philippines and on some south-west Pacific islands.


Spangled Drongos prefer wet forests, but can also be found in other woodlands, mangroves and parks. They tend to avoid more dense forest types and rainforest interiors. Birds are more common in the north, and are often seen either singly or in pairs.

Seasonal movements: 

migratory; Individuals from the northern areas of Western Australia and the Northern Territory migrate northwards to Indonesia, while the eastern Australian birds migrate to New Guinea. Some Drongos in the south-east and central-east, however, remain in the same area or head south, occasionally turning up in Tasmania.

What does it do?

The Spangled Drongo is usually seen perched on an open branch or telegraph wire, 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.


Spangled Drongos normally have only one clutch per season. Both adults participate in building the nest, which is a simple, shallow cup 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 10 m – 20 m above the ground. Both sexes incubate the eggs and care for the young. Spangled Drongos actively defend the nest against intruders.

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