(766) Dicrurus macrocercus macrocercus.
The Black Drongo.
Dicrurus macrocercus Vieill., Nouv. Diet. d'Hist Nat., ix, p. 588 (1817) (India, restricted to Orissa). Dicrurus ater. Blanf. & Oates, i, p. 312 (part.).
Vernacular names. Kolsa, Buchanga, Bojanga (Hind.) ; Finga (Beng.) ; Japal Kalchit (Paul.) ; Kunick, Kal Kolachi (Sind.) ;. Thampal (in the N.W. Provinces); Kotwal (in the Deccan); Yeti-inta, Baradwa-jam, Passala-poli-gadu (Tel.) ; Karri-Karru-mak (Tam).
Description. Whole plumage deep black, everywhere glossed: with steel-blue; a small white spot almost invariably present close to the angle of the gape.
Colours of soft parts. Iris red to crimson; bill, legs and feet black.
Measurements. Wing 128 to 156 mm., average 140.4 mm, tail 143 to 168, average 153.7 mm.; tarsus about 21 mm.; culmen 22.0 to 23.0 mm.
The largest measurements seem to be invariably of Winter birds, probably wanderers from the North, whilst the smallest, also Winter birds, are equally probably wanderers from the extreme South. If we could restrict our measurements to breeding birds only, these would probably be eliminated.
Young. Wings and lower plumage brownish; under wing-coverts and many feathers of the lower plumage tipped with while.
Nestling. Still browner, and the white tips forming irregular bars.
Distribution. The whole of India from South Travancore up to, but not including, the foot-hills of the Himalayas and also excluding the plains in the immediate vicinity of the hills and in Northern Bengal.
Nidification. The "King-Crow" or Black Drongo breeds throughout its habitat from about the middle of April to the end of June, often having second broods in July and August. About Sambhur it is said not to commence breeding until June. It builds a shallow cup-shaped nest of fine twigs and roots, sometimes almost entirely of the latter, lined with finer roots and occasionally with horse or buffalo hair; the outside is nearly always decorated with pieces of lichen, moss, bark, spiders' egg-bags, etc., but never in such profusion as are the nests of the Pericrocoti. Most nests are placed high up in tall trees, but I have seen them within reach of the hand. Almost without exception, however, they are placed in a fork of one of the outer and most slender branches, frequently in what appear to be such perilous positions that the contents must be lost in a high wind. The eggs generally number four in the more northern districts, three or even two only in the southern ones. They vary in colour from pure spotless white to rich warm cream or salmon, and the marks vary from a few black specks and dots to rather profuse markings of rich purple-red, reddish brown or pale pinky-brown; most eggs have underlying marks of neutral tint and lavender-pink, 1 hough these are sometimes missing- Two hundred eggs average 25.5 x 19.0 mm.: maxima 28.3 x 20.0 and 25.1 x 20.1 mm.; minima 23.0 x 18.5 mm. and 25.2 x 17.1 mm.
Habits. The " King-Crow" is one of the best known and most familiar of our Indian birds ; its glossy black shape and undulating flight are to be seen in every garden and roadside, whilst its cheery loud notes sound from all sides of every village, town or patch of cultivation. It is one of the bravest of our birds, dashing headlong at every unwanted intruder and driving it with wild shrieks from the vicinity of its nest or young. Harmless birds it tolerates without protest and many birds, such as Orioles, Flycatchers and others, build their nests close to that of a King-Crow's, so as to enjoy the protection of pluck greater than their own. Its ordinary flight is dipping and slow but it is capable of great speed in pursuit of its purely insect-diet, when its motions are no less graceful than rapid. It is a great mimic.