Dicrurus paradiseusgreater racket-tailed drongo

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Geographic Range

Greater racket-tailed drongos are found throughout Southeast Asia. They are found in India, east of Bangladesh and south of the Himalayas. They are also found in southern China, on the island of Hainan, and in parts of Indonesia. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Ali, 1941)

Habitat

Greater racket-tailed drongos inhabit a wide variety of habitats. They can be found in moist deciduous forests, in the low hills of the Himalayas and also in wide-open plains. Populations are most dense in the foothills of the Himalayas. They can be found from sea level to 2,000 meters. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Ali, 1941; Roberts, 1992)

  • Range elevation
    0 to 2000 m
    0.00 to 6561.68 ft
  • Average elevation
    1500 m
    4921.26 ft

Physical Description

Greater racket-tailed drongos can weigh from 70 to 125 grams and are 31 to 36 centimeters in body length, not including their elongated tail feathers. Males and females are similar in appearance. The body is glossy black with shades of blue and green. The blue extends from behind their reddish-brown eyes to about halfway down the back.The wings and the tuft on the top of the head are green with a hint of pale yellow on the very tips of the wings. Greater racket-tailed drongos have two wirelike ‘racket’ tipped feathers that extend beyond the tail. (Ali, 1941; Roberts, 1992)

  • Sexual Dimorphism
  • sexes alike
  • Range mass
    70 to 125 g
    2.47 to 4.41 oz
  • Average mass
    100 g
    3.52 oz
  • Range length
    31 to 36 cm
    12.20 to 14.17 in
  • Average length
    33 cm
    12.99 in

Reproduction

Greater racket-tailed drongos form monogamous pairs during breeding season. There is some evidence that young help with raising subsequent broods as well. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005)

Greater racket-tailed drongos breed from March to June but there is quite a bit of variation in the breeding season in different localities. Birds found in the northern parts of their range tend to mate much later in the season, between June and July. Populations in more southern, tropical regions tend to mate much earlier, around February. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Ali, 1941; Roberts, 1992)

The nests of greater racket-tailed drongos are saucer-like in shape. They are made of intricately intertwined roots and leaves with fine materials lining the inside. They are held together with cobwebs and camouflaged with lichens. The nests are often found at a horizontal fork of two branches. Greater racket-tailed drongos tend to lay 3 to 4 eggs. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Roberts, 1992)

  • Breeding interval
    Breeding occurs once yearly.
  • Breeding season
    Breeding occurs between February and July, depending on the region.
  • Range eggs per season
    1 to 4
  • Average eggs per season
    3
  • Range time to hatching
    15 to 17 days
  • Range fledging age
    17 to 28 days
  • Average fledging age
    19 days
  • Range time to independence
    4 to 6 weeks

Nesting duties, constructing the nest, incubation, and rearing young are shared between males and females. Males and females also continue to watch over their young even after they leave the nest.

  • Parental Investment
  • altricial
  • pre-fertilization
    • provisioning
    • protecting
      • female
  • pre-hatching/birth
    • provisioning
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-weaning/fledging
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • pre-independence
    • provisioning
      • male
      • female
    • protecting
      • male
      • female
  • post-independence association with parents

Lifespan/Longevity

The lifespan of greater racket-tailed drongos is not known.

Behavior

Greater racket-tailed drongos can normally be found in hunting groups that are made up of other bird species, mainly jungle babblers (Timaliidae). They are usually observed along, in pairs, or in small groups. They are very territorial. Greater racket-tailed drongos have a style of flight similar to that of other drongos (Dicruridae), which includes a lot of dipping with short spurts of flapping followed by a period of gliding. The ‘rackets’ on the end of the tail make the bird’s flight excessively noisy and make a persistent humming noise. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Ali, 1941)

Home Range

The home range of greater racket-tailed drongos is not known.

Communication and Perception

Greater racket-tailed drongos have a large repertoire of calls that consist of bell-like notes, whistles, warbles, and metallic sounding calls that are typical of most drongos. Greater racket-tailed drongos are convincing mimics, which is useful when traveling in the mixed hunting flocks in which they are usually found. (Ali, 1941)

  • Other Communication Modes
  • mimicry

Food Habits

Greater racket-tailed drongos feed on the nectar of plants but also eat insects including ants, bees, beetles, dragonflies, locusts, mantids, moths, and termites. Like other drongos, they catch their prey in mid-air or pick them off of surfaces, and then carry prey back to the nest in their claws. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005; Ali, 1941)

  • Animal Foods
  • insects
  • Plant Foods
  • nectar

Predation

Predation on greater racket-tailed drongos has not been reported, although it is likely that a variety of arboreal predators, such as snakes, prey on eggs, nestlings, and young.

Ecosystem Roles

Greater racket-tailed drongos act as predators in the ecosystems they inhabit by preying on a multitude of insects. They are also capable of pollinating plants because they feed on nectar. (Ali, 1941; Roberts, 1992)

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • pollinates

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Greater racket-tailed drongos are important members of native ecosystems, but otherwise have no known economic importance for humans. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005)

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Greater racket-tailed drongos have no negative impact on human society. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005)

Conservation Status

Greater racket-tailed drongos are not currently considered threatened. ("Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia", 2005)

Contributors

Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.

Patrick Maloney (author), Kalamazoo College, Ann Fraser (editor, instructor), Kalamazoo College.

Glossary

acoustic

uses sound to communicate

altricial

young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

arboreal

Referring to an animal that lives in trees; tree-climbing.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.

carnivore

an animal that mainly eats meat

chemical

uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

diurnal
  1. active during the day, 2. lasting for one day.
endothermic

animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

forest

forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.

herbivore

An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

insectivore

An animal that eats mainly insects or spiders.

iteroparous

offspring are produced in more than one group (litters, clutches, etc.) and across multiple seasons (or other periods hospitable to reproduction). Iteroparous animals must, by definition, survive over multiple seasons (or periodic condition changes).

mimicry

imitates a communication signal or appearance of another kind of organism

monogamous

Having one mate at a time.

motile

having the capacity to move from one place to another.

mountains

This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.

nectarivore

an animal that mainly eats nectar from flowers

oriental

found in the oriental region of the world. In other words, India and southeast Asia.

World Map

oviparous

reproduction in which eggs are released by the female; development of offspring occurs outside the mother's body.

rainforest

rainforests, both temperate and tropical, are dominated by trees often forming a closed canopy with little light reaching the ground. Epiphytes and climbing plants are also abundant. Precipitation is typically not limiting, but may be somewhat seasonal.

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season

sedentary

remains in the same area

sexual

reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female

social

associates with others of its species; forms social groups.

solitary

lives alone

tactile

uses touch to communicate

terrestrial

Living on the ground.

territorial

defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement

tropical

the region of the earth that surrounds the equator, from 23.5 degrees north to 23.5 degrees south.

visual

uses sight to communicate

References

2005. Grzimek's Animal Life Encyclopedia. The Gale Group. Accessed October 16, 2006 at http://www.answers.com/topic/greater-racket-tailed-drongo.

Ali, S. 1941. The Book of Indian Birds. Oxford, England: Oxford University Press.

Roberts, T. 1992. The Birds of Pakistan. Karachi: Oxford University Press.