(785) Dissemurulus lophorhinus.
The Ceylon Black Drongo.
Dicrurus lophorhinus Vieill., Nouv. Dict, d'Hist. Nat. ix, p. 587 (1817) (Ceylon). Dissemurulus lophorhinus. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 322.
Vernacular names. Kowda, Kaputa baya (Ceylon); Val, Kari Karuvi (Tel., Travancore).
Description. Whole plumage black, glossed with steel-blue above, on exposed portions of wings and tail and also on the breast; forehead and tuft deep velvety-black; abdomen dull black; axillaries and under wing-coverts tipped with white.
Colours of soft parts. Iris dull brownish red or dark yellowish red; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 136 to 146 mm.; tail 150 to 182 mm.; tarsus 24 to 25 mm.; culmen from nostril 20 to 21 mm.
Young birds are duller; greyer on the abdomen and with much larger white tips to the axillaries and under wing-coverts. One young bird has a few white specks on the flanks, indicating that these and the abdomen are possibly more or less barred with white in the Nestling.
Distribution. Ceylon and South Travancore.
Nidification. This fine Drongo breeds in Ceylon and Travancore during March and April between the foot-hills and damp forests of the plains up to about 3,000 feet. The nest is described by Mr. Stewart as a shallow cup or cradle just like that of Dissemurus and is placed in quite similar positions in high trees in forest.
The eggs number two to four and are very like those of Dissemurus paradiseus but the ground-colour never seems to be as rich a salmon as it sometimes is in those of the Backet-tailed Drongo. The ground varies from almost white to a pale salmon often with a tint of lilac or mauve in it. The markings consist of blotches and spots of reddish brown with secondary ones of pale neutral tint and lavender. These are usually distributed rather sparingly over the whole surface but rather more numerously towards the larger end. Fifty eggs average 27.8 x 20.1 mm.: maxima 30.2 x 20.7 and 29.1 x 22.0 mm.: minima 26.0 x 21.0 and 27.2 x 20.0 mm.
Habits. This Drongo keeps entirely to the interior of damp-dense forest otherwise having much the same habits as the common species of Drongos. It seizes most of its prey on the wing and has a very fine vocabulary of notes both of its own and in mimicry of other birds. Although not gregarious it is very sociable in its habits, several pairs often feeding together in close propinquity. Like all the family it is very plucky and leads the small birds in their pursuit of owls, kites or other birds of prey.