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Common Square-tailed Drongo - BirdForum Opus

Photo © by Alan Manson
Mkhuze Game Reserve, KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, 3 May 2008
Dicrurus ludwigii


Length 19 cm; mass 18-41 g. Adult: Glossy black; tail slightly forked; The bill is black with a hooked tip, the eyes deep red, and the legs and feet are black.

Similar species

Differs from Shining Drongo in significantly smaller size.
Fork-tailed Drongo and Velvet-mantled Drongo are also bigger and have much more deeply forked tails.
This species is also easily confused with the Southern Black Flycatcher as they are of a similar size. The Drongo, however, has a red (rather than brown)eye, a heavier bill, a different call, and is almost always found in the mid-stratum of forests (the Flycatcher prefers more open woodland).


Eastern and Southern Africa


Formerly included Western Square-tailed Drongo and Sharpe's Drongo.


Four subspecies currently recognized[1]:

  • D. l. saturnus:
  • D. l. muenzneri:
  • D. l. tephrogaster:
  • D. l. ludwigi:


Forest and thicket.


Solitary or in pairs; noisy and aggressive, mobs raptors.


Hawks for insects from a perch in the mid-stratum; also feeds on nectar.


Monogamous and territorial. The nest is a neat cup of fine plant material, lichen and spider web, built by both adults. Two to three eggs are laid September to January.


The distinctive call includes twanging and whistled notes; also mimics other calls.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, S. M. Billerman, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2019. The eBird/Clements Checklist of Birds of the World: v2019. Downloaded from http://www.birds.cornell.edu/clementschecklist/download/
  2. Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ & Ryan PG (eds) 2005. Robert's Birds of Southern Africa, 7th edition. John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town, South Africa. ISBN 0620340533
  3. Lepage D. 2008. Avibase. Search for "Dicrurus ludwigii" downloaded 6 May 2008.
  4. Sinclair I, Ryan P. 2003. Birds of Africa south of the Sahara. Princeton University Press. ISBN 0 620 20729 9
  5. Rocamora, G. & Yeatman-Berthelot, D. (2020). Square-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus ludwigii). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from https://www.hbw.com/node/60585 on 4 April 2020).
  6. Rocamora, G. and D. Yeatman-Berthelot (2020). Common Square-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus ludwigii), version 1.0. In Birds of the World (S. M. Billerman, B. K. Keeney, P. G. Rodewald, and T. S. Schulenberg, Editors). Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, USA. https://doi.org/10.2173/bow.cstdro1.01
  7. Fuchs, J., M. Douno, R. C. K. Bowie, and J. Fjeldså (2018). Taxonomic revision of the Square-tailed Drongo species complex (Passeriformes: Dicruridae) with description of a new species from western Africa. Zootaxa 4438:105–127. https://doi.org/10.11646/zootaxa.4438.1.4

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