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Spangled Drongo - BirdForum Opus

Photo by tcollins
Darwin, Australia, November 2006
Dicrurus bracteatus

Includes: Buru Spangled Drongo, Halmahera Spangled Drongo, Morotai Spangled Drongo, Seram Spangled Drongo


Male 30–32 cm (11¾-12½ in); female 28–30 cm (11-11¾ in)

  • Glossy black overall plumage
  • Iridescent blueish-green spots
  • Red eyes
  • Occasional white spotting can be seen on the upper wings
  • Long forked tail.

Sexes similar, female slightly smaller.
Young birds are more sooty black without the spangles and the eye is brown


Juvenile, note brown eye
Photo by Ken Doy
Sandy Camp Rd Wetlands, Queensland, Australia, May 2018

The different subspecies vary in size and in degree of gloss.


Northern and eastern Australia, New Guinea and eastern Indonesia (Moluccas).
The only drongo in its range.
Common in most of its range. Some island subspecies under threat of habitat destruction.


Has been considered conspecific with Hair-crested Drongo and belongs to a superspecies with Hair-crested Drongo, Sumatran Drongo, Wallacean Drongo, Balicassiao, Sulawesi Drongo and Ribbon-tailed Drongo. Tablas Drongo was included as a subspecies to this species by some authorities.

Many forms probably deserve specific status given their morphological and vocal diversity. Eaton et al [4] elevate each of the Moluccan subspecies to specific status as follows: amboinensis ("Seram Spangled Drongo", D. amboinensis), atrocaeruleus ("Halmahera Spangled Drongo", D. atrocaeruleus), buruensis ("Buru Spangled Drongo", D. buruensis), morotensis ("Morotai Spangled Drongo", D. morotensis).

The traditional treatment makes this a polytypic species [1] consisting of 11 subspecies:


(sub)species atrocaeruleus, "Halmahera Spangled Drongo". Eye is reddish. Photo © by THE_FERN. Pak Roji's, Halmahera, Indonesia, July 2023
  • D. b. morotensis: "Morotai Spangled Drongo". Morotai (Moluccas)
  • D. b. atrocaeruleus: "Halmahera Spangled Drongo". Halmahera, northern Moluccas
  • D. b. buruensis: "Buru Spangled Drongo". Buru (southern Moluccas)
  • D. b. amboinensis: "Seram Spangled Drongo". Southern Moluccas (Seram, Ambon, Haruku and Saparua)
  • D. b. carbonarius: Aru Island, New Guinea (incl. northern Torres Strait), Louisiade Archipelago, D'Entrecasteaux Archipelago
  • D. b. laemostictus: New Britain (Bismarck Archipelago)
  • D. b. meeki: Guadalcanal (Solomon Islands)
  • D. b. longirostris: Makira (Solomon Islands)
  • D. b. baileyi: Northern Australia (Kimberley to Arnhem Land and Melville Island)
  • D. b. atrabectus: Islands of south Torres Straits and Cape York Peninsula. south to Burdekin River.
  • D. b. bracteatus: East Australia (Burdekin River., Queensland to south coast of New South Wales)

The following subspecies: D. h. palawanensis, D. h. cuyensis, D. h. suluensis, D. h. samarensis, and D. h. striatus are now part of the Hair-crested Drongo[1].


Wet forests and woodlands, mangroves and parks.



They have a varied diet mainly consisting of winged insects, with the addition of teak moth pupae and occasionally small vertebrates. The also eat fruit and nectar.


Both adults build a shallow cup nest of twigs, vine tendrils and grasses, held together with spider web. The clutch contains 3-5 eggs which are incubated by both sexes.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, J. A. Gerbracht, D. Lepage, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2021. The eBird/Clements checklist of Birds of the World: v2021. Downloaded from https://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Del Hoyo, J, A Elliott, and D Christie, eds. 2009. Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 14: Bush-shrikes to Old World Sparrows. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8496553507
  3. Rocamora, G. and D. Yeatman-Berthelot (2020). Spangled Drongo (Dicrurus bracteatus), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (J. del Hoyo, A. Elliott, J. Sargatal, D. A. Christie, and E. de Juana, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.spadro1.01
  4. Eaton, J.A.. van Balen, B. Brickle, N.W., B Rheindk F.E. (2021). Birds of the Indonesian Archipelago, Greater Sundas and Wallacea. Lynx Edicions. Barcelona. Second Edition

Recommended Citation

External Links

GSearch checked for 2020 platform.1