(777) Dicrurus caerulescens caerulescens.
The White-bellied Drongo.
Lanius caerulescens Linn., S. N., i, p. 134 (1766) (Bangala). Dicrurus caerulescens. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 316.
Vernacular names. Phari buchanga, Dhapri (Hind.); D'houli (Beng.) ; Nella or Kenda passala poligadu (Tel.).
Description. Whole upper plumage deep glossy indigo with greenish reflections in certain lights; wing-quills and inner webs of rectrices blackish brown; chin, throat, breast and upper flanks brownish grey; belly, posterior flanks, vent and under tail-coverts white; lores and a line at the base of the upper mandible black.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red to lake; bill, legs and feet, black.
Measurements. Total length about 140 mm.; wing 120 to 138 mm.; tail 110 to 138 mm.; culmen (measured from anterior front of nostril to tip) 15 to 17 mm.; tarsus about 19 mm.
Young are very brown, retaining traces of the nestling plumage on the breast, flanks, axillaries and under wing-coverts.
Nestling. Dull brown, the breast and flanks barred with white and the wing-coverts edged with pale rufescent white.
Distribution. India from the extreme South to Cutch on the West and thence North to Garhwal, but not West and North of this. On the East it extends to Western Bengal and Behar and it ascends the Himalayas between these points to about 6,000 feet.
Nidification. The White-bellied Drongo breeds from the foothills and broken ground adjoining them up to at least 6,000 feet and perhaps 1,000 feet higher. It keeps to heavily wooded country and to forest, laying in April, May and June, making the usual Drongo's nest, though, perhaps, rather larger and stronger in proportion to its size. The materials consist principally of roots and grasses and the nests are attached to the outer branches of small or medium-sized trees. The eggs number two or three and are tvpical small Drongo-eggs, varying in ground from the palest cream or yellowish-salmon to a warm salmon, the markings varying almost as much as in the Black Drongos. Thirty eggs average 23.2 x 17.5 mm.: maxima 24.1 x l8.0 mm.; minima 19.1 x l5.2 mm.
Habits. This Drongo is far more of a forest-bird than either the Black or Grey Drongos, though it is found about plantations and cultivation as well, where there are lots of trees. In its manners, flight, diet, etc. it differs little from these birds and it is equally courageous and pugnacious. It is said to have a sweeter song than any of the other Drongos of this genus.