(775) Dicrurus leucophaeus longicaudatus.
The Indian Grey Drongo.
Dicrurus longicaudatus A Hav, Jerd., Madr. Jour. L. S., xii, pt. ii, p. 121 (1845; (Nilghiris) ; Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 314.
Vernacular names. Nil finga, (Beng.); Eratu-valan-kuravi (Tam.).
Description. Similar to D. l. stevensi but smaller.
Measurements. Wing 124 to 145 mm., average 134 mm.; tail 127 to 170 mm., average 148 mm.; culmen 21.5 to 22.5 mm.
Distribution. The whole of India West and South of the distribution of the preceding bird and perhaps the extreme South of Travancore. It appears, however, not to be found on the South-Eastern and East Central part of India, though Jerdon records it from Bastar in the Central Provinces. The biggest birds included in the above measurements are all Winter birds, as are the smallest birds in the preceding race and measurements of Summer birds only increases decidedly the difference in the average Measurements.
Nidification. The Grey Drongo breeds throughout its habitat, from the level of the Plains up to at least 7,000 feet, at which elevation its nests have been found by Mr. A. E. Jones and the late Mr. P. Dodsworth. The greater number of plains' birds seem, however, to move to the nearest plateaus and hills to nest. The breeding-season is during May and June, a few birds laying both earlier and later. The nest of this, as of all the other races of Grey Drongo, is a shallow saucer measuring externally about 4 inches in diameter by about 1 1/2 or 2 inches deep, whilst internally the cup is about 3/4 inch less each way. It is made of grass-stems, roots and, less often, of fine twigs, weed-stems, strips of bamboo-leaf: and other materials. They are very well put together, though the materials are often rather scanty, being strongly reinforced with ample spiders' webs. Occasionally they are decorated outside with a tew scraps of moss, lichen or spiders' egg-bags but never to so great an extent as are the nests of Pericrocotus. The situation selected for the nest is practically always one on a slender branch on the top or outside of! a tree-It may be placed either on a horizontal fork or on the top of one or more small brandies and is very rarely to be seen in an upright fork or on a stout bough. The height at which it is placed varies greatly; I have taken the eggs from a nest standing within a couple of feet of the ground, whilst other nests I have seen were titty feet from it and quite unobtainable. The eggs, three or four in number, are very handsome. They range from pure spotless white to deep salmon or buffy-pink and the markings-range from a few black pin-points to profuse chestnut, reddish brown, purple-brown or yellow-brown blotches. As a rule, they are more numerous and more of the character of blotches rather than spots as in the Black Drongos' eggs. The shape is normally a broad oval, very little depressed at the smaller end. The texture is smooth and fairly fine but not glossy. Two hundred eggs average 23.6 x 18.2 mm.: maxima 25.5 x 18.1 and 25.2 x 19.2 mm. ;. minima 21.2 X 17.4 and 23.0 x 17.3 mm.
Habits. Although found often in the true Plains the Grey Drongo prefers well-wooded hills and broken country with plenty of open spaces and is common in gardens and all round towns and villages. Except in a few places it does not care about forests, though occasionally found in thin deciduous tree-forest, or in secondary scrub or other growth. It is not gregarious but is very sociable, several birds often being seen hawking for insects in close proximity to one another. They feed entirely on insects, catching most of these in the air but often descending to the ground to seize some fat grasshopper or other tempting morsel. It is a very bold bird, like its black cousin, attacking any kite, crow or other objectionable bird which may invade its territory, not desisting until it has driven it away. It has a very large vocabulary of notes, some harsh and some sweet.' audit has a very pleasant musical song uttered almost throughout the year. In addition, to this it is an excellent mimic, whilst some of its notes seem to be ventriloquistic.