Rarely sighted on the Indian subcontinent, we are lucky that this Spangled Drongo – also called the Blue Drongo – decided to appear fleetingly on the Savista lawns one September evening, where it was fortuitously captured in this photo by Hedda, our resident intern at the time.
The Spangled Drongo has a glossy sheen to its black plumage which is shot through with irridiscent blue and purple highlights. It has crimson eyes and its forked tail feathers are curled upwards. It generally nests high up in tree canopy, making it difficult for predators to gain access without being seen.
Spangled Drongos (Dicrurus bracteatus) are native to the east coast of Australia, and are the only drongo variety to be found in that country. The more ubiquitous drongo in India are the black, bronze, and ashy; there are also the hair-crested and racket-tailed drongos. These are all native to Bangladesh, India and Bhutan and throughout south east Asia all the way to China.
While most drongos feed on insects, Spangled Drongos also feed on nectar, especially the flowers of the Silk Cotton tree ( of which we have several at Savista) and the Indian Coral Tree (which we are planning to acquire).
Reportedly, there has been a decline in the drongo population across India. Happily, Savista is still full of Black Drongos which are very visible and very friendly towards us humans, and warble sweetly when they discover that food and water are plentifully available, as they always are at Savista! What good fortune that we also seem to have some Spangled Drongos who have chosen to live here.