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Ashy Drongo - BirdForum Opus

(Redirected from Dicrurus leucophaeus)
Nominate subspecies
Photo © by Jason Bugay Reyes
Cibodas Garden, Gede, Java Island, May 2008

Alternative names: Pale Drongo, Grey Drongo

Dicrurus leucophaeus


Adult with juvenile, subspecies D. l. longicaudatus
Photo © by aloktewari
Hill Station Dalhousie, Himachal Pradesh, India, July 2012

Size: 25·5–29 cm (10-11½ in). A variable drongo:

  • Relatively long and narrow-splayed tail
  • Bright red eyes
  • Mostly grey body plumage but highly variable from pale grey to almost black. See below for subspecies variations.
  • No Rictal spot

Sexes alike, females are slightly smaller than males. Juveniles are browner than adult with some white fringing on belly to undertail-coverts.

Similar species

Especially longicaudatus and nigrescens can be confused with Black Drongo but note brighter red eye, longer tail and the absence of a rictal spot.


Subspecies D. l. longicaudatus
Photo © by Rajiv Lather
Himachal Pradesh, India
Map-Ashy Drongo.jpg

Breeding in the Himalayas from east Afghanistan east over India, Nepal, Bhutan and China through south-east Asia to Sumatra, Java, Borneo, Bali, Lombok and southwest Philippines. Northern populations winter south to tropical latitudes.
Generally common in its range altough continuing habitat loss in Indonesia may threaten some island subspecies.


all year
Maps/Texts consulted2



Adult and juvenile, Subspecies D. l. stigmatops
Photo © by darwin1601
Mt. Kinabalu, Sabah, BorneoMay 2016
Subspecies D. l. leucogenis
Photo © by scottishdude
Middle of China, June 2008

There are 14 subspecies[1]:

Subspecies D. l. hopwoodi
Photo © by Notuswinner
China, 12 February 2019
  • head and upperparts almost black, long and deeply forked tail
  • unglossed blue-grey, but variable in size and colour
  • blue grey above and pale soft ashy grey below, ear-coverts lighter grey
  • like mouhoti but smaller and paler
  • plumage is black with slight gloss above and darker below. Resembles Black Drongo in shape andd proportions but is never as black.
  • D. l. leucogenis: Manchuria and eastern China; winters to Indochina (White-cheeked Grey Drongo)
  • pale ashy grey with white cheek patch, including area surrounding eyes.
  • D. l. salangensis: South-eastern China and southern Thailand; winters to Hainan
  • resembles leucogenis but white is confined to area surrounding eye.
  • D. l. innexus: Hainan (southern China)
  • heavier and deeper bill than all other subspecies, lores and ear-coverts more or less whitish
  • D. l. stigmatops: Mountains of northern Borneo
  • similar to mouhoti but smaller and eye orange-red, white of lores extends around eye
  • similar to phaedrus but a little darker with grey lores
  • similar to stigmatops but with smaller white loral spot
  • D. l. periophthalmicus: Simeulue Island and adjacent Mentawi Islands (off Sumatra)
  • pale blue grey like nominate but with large white facial patch
  • D. l. siberu: Siberut Island (off Sumatra)
  • slightly darker than periophthalmicus
  • D. l. leucophaeus: Java, Bali, Lombok, Palawan, Calamian and Balabac islands
  • Ashy grey plumage. dark on throat and underparts with velvety dark frontal band and blackish chin

Two subspecies Dicrurus l. celaenus and Dicrurus l. palawensis are not recognised by all authorities.[1]


Mangroves, beach scrub, plantation, the forest edges, wooded gardens. Much more confined to forest than Black Drongo. Occurs up to 3000m in the Himalayas.



Found on exposed perch from which it hawks for flying insects, takes sometimes also small vertebrates. Also dives and climbs while pursuing insects in mid-air.


Breeding season May to June in the Himalayas, April to June in China, March to May in Sumatra. A territorial species, acting aggressively towards possible predators.

The nest is a shallow cup made of vegetable fibres like rootlets, grass stems or leaves. It's placed usually high up in a tree. Lays 2 - 4 eggs.


Distinct series of mewing calls. The different subspecies have different songs.

Recording © by Alok Tewari
Subspecies D. l. longicaudatus
Bird sitting in front of me, at the forest-edge, and calling. Sat Tal Forest, Alt. 5500 ft., Dist. Nainital, Uttarakhand Himalayas, India. 4 April 2019.


  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. 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. Rasmussen, PC and JC Anderton. 2005. Birds of South Asia: The Ripley Guide. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. ISBN 978-8487334672

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