Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo)

Mikstertbyvanger [Afrikaans]; Intengu [Xhosa]; iNtengu [Zulu]; Ntene [Kwangali]; Theko [North Sotho]; Nhengu, Nhengure (both names also applied to Southern black flycatcher) [Shona]; Intsengu [Swazi]; Mantengu [Tsonga]; Kuamosi [Tswana]; Fluweeldrongo [Dutch]; Drongo brillant [French]; Trauerdrongo, Gabelschwanzdrongo [German]; Drongo-de-cauda-forcada [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Dicruridae

Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo) Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo)
Fork-tailed drongo, Tanzania.  [photo Martin Goodey ] Fork-tailed drongo, Nylsvlei, South Africa. [photo Trevor Hardaker ]
Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo) Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo)

Fork-tailed drongo. [photo Callie de Wet ]

Fork-tailed drongo. [photo Johann Grobbelaar ]

Distribution and habitat

Occurs across sub-Saharan Africa, absent only from extremely arid areas. In southern Africa it is common and widespread, with massive populations in Botswana, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Namibia and South Africa, absent from some grassland and arid habitats. It generally occurs in woodland, such as savanna and riverine woodland, but is also common in alien tree plantations, forest edges, grassland with scattered trees, farmland, gardens and parks.

Distribution of Fork-tailed drongo in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  

Brood parasites

It has been recorded as host of the Jacobin cuckoo and African cuckoo.


Highly adaptable, it eats a variety of animal prey, especially insects but also other birds and fish. It often hawks insects from a perch, catching them in flight or on the ground, often targeting insects flying around electric lights. It is a kleptoparasite, regurlarly stealing food from other birds (often within a mixed-species foraging flock) and mammals. A good example is the Suricate (Suricata suricatta): In the Kalahari Desert, drongos sometimes perch above a few foraging Suricates, waiting till one of them finds food, at which point it mimicks their alarm call, snatching up their prey in the ensuing confusion. The followin food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image below) is a thinly-walled cup made of twigs, leaf petioles and tendrils, strongly bound together with spider web strands. It is usually placed like a hammock between the branches of a tree fork, roughly 4-6 metres above ground.
Dicrurus adsimilis (Fork-tailed drongo)  

Fork-tailed drongo in its nest, Sericea farm, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

  • Egg-laying season is from August-January, peaking from September-October.
  • It lays 2-5 eggs, which are incubated by both sexes for about 15-18 days.
  • The chick are fed and brooded by both parents, leaving the nest after about 16-22 days.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town. 




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