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Greater Racket-tailed Drongo - BirdForum Opus

Alternative names: Greater Racquet-tailed Drongo; Large Racquet-tailed Drongo

Photo © by the late Laurence Poh
Bang Pra Non-hunting Area, Thailand
Dicrurus paradiseus


Suspecies D. p. grandis
Photo © by Alok Tewari
Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, U.P. Terai, India, Jan-2015

30 - 65cm (11¾-25½ in), depending on tail length.

  • Black plumage with metallic blue or greenish-blue gloss
  • Arching, helmet-like crest
  • Notched tail with long, whorled rackets (sometimes damaged or missing)
  • Blood-red eye

Sexes similar.
Immatures are browner, less glossy, have a brown eye and a shorter tail with smaller tail-rackets.


There is no crest in birds from Borneo. Additional variation described under each subspecies.

Similar species

Lesser Racket-tailed Drongo has a rounded tail with flat rackets and a distinctly flat-headed appearance.


ssp brachyphorus
Photo © by horukuru
Sepilok, Sabah, Borneo, October 2009

Found in the Himalayas from North India east to Nepal, Bhutan, southern China (Tibet, Yunnan, Hainan); on the Indian Subcontinent, Sri Lanka, Burma, Indochina and south to Malaysia, Sumatra, Java, Bali and Borneo.
Common in parts of its range. Rare on Hainan.


Has been placed in the genus Dissemuroides in the past.

Sri Lanka Drongo D. lophorinus has been split from this species.


Malaysian subspecies
Photo © by Kayes
Penang, Malaysia, June 2018

There are 13 subspecies[1]:

  • largest of all subspecies
  • with a very large crest and large and sharply defined breast spangles
  • crest more upward curving
  • well-defined spangles on breast
  • D. p. platurus: Southern Malaysia, Sumatra and adjacent north-western islands
  • similar to hypoballus but with a bushy tuft rather than a short crest
  • similar to nominate but smaller
  • like rangoonensis but without crest
  • similar to nominate but with smaller tail-racket
  • D. p. banguey: Islands off north Borneo
  • similar to brachyphorus but with longer wings
  • smallest subspecies, no crest, rackets often missing or abnormal developed
  • D. p. microlophus: North Natuna Islands
  • often with a short bushy tuft
  • very small, short crest curving backwards on to crown, long tail-rackets


Forest , forest edges, plantations, wooded gardens. Occurs up to 1500m in India.


If territorial, is aggressive and will mob intruders, even large raptors and hornbills.


Found usually in the middle storey. Like most drongos, hawks after insects from open perches.


Breeding season mainly from April to July. Pairs apparently stay together their whole lives. The nest is a small cradle made of fine twigs, rootlets, grass stems and other vegetable fibres. It's placed 5 - 15m above the ground in a tree. Lays usually 3 eggs. Brood parasitism by Indian Cuckoo reported.


A superb mimic of the calls of other birds but always has a metallic sound.


  1. Clements, J. F., T. S. Schulenberg, M. J. Iliff, D. Roberson, T. A. Fredericks, B. L. Sullivan, and C. L. Wood. 2017. The eBird/Clements checklist of birds of the world: v2017, with updates to August 2017. 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
  4. Birdforum thread including discussion of this species in Borneo

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