Spangled Drongo – a noisy and conspicuous bird

Spangled Drongo

Spangled Drongo – forked tail and crimson eyes

Spangled Drongo is a beautiful black bird with bright red eyes and intensively blue spots on its chest. It has a characteristic fork like tail and is known for its sharp calling sound. It likes to imitate the sounds of kingfishers and occasionally makes loud, entertaining calls that sound like a “sneeze”.

The bird feeds on insects and small vertebrates, and sometimes looks comical when it swoops and perches in search of small insects, birds, and occasionally, small skinks.

Interestingly, the Spangled Drongo can be easily tamed. When it visits urban areas seasonally, you can throw small pieces of raw meat into the air and the bird will accurately swoop and catch it mid-air.

In late spring, they often migrate to areas around Brisbane in Queensland to nest, and they leave with their juveniles in mid-summer.

The Spangled Drongo is found throughout northern and eastern Australia and inhabits woodland areas. We were lucky to spot it during our numerous trips to Port Douglas.

A few interesting facts about the Spangled Drongo:

  • The Spangled Drongo is known for its intelligence and is considered to be one of the most intelligent birds in the world. It has been observed using tools, such as using sticks to extract insects from tree bark.
  • The Spangled Drongo is a master of mimicry and can imitate the calls of other birds and even other animals, such as dogs and cats.
  • In addition to imitating other animals, the Spangled Drongo has also been known to mimic human speech and sounds, such as car alarms and mobile phone ringtones.
  • The Spangled Drongo is a migratory bird and travels long distances each year to breed and feed.
  • Despite its name, the Spangled Drongo is not actually a member of the Drongo family, but is instead classified as a member of the Monarchidae family.

Where spotted: Port Douglas and Brisbane, QLD 

The unsuccessful racehorse Drongo was named after the bird and led to the Australian slang insult “drongo” meaning ‘idiot’.


Spangled Drongo – more information

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