327. Dicrurus ater.
The Black Drongo.
Muscicapa atra, Hermann, Obs. Zool. p. 208 (1804). Dicrurus macrocercus, Vieill. Nouv. Diet. d'Hist. Nat. ix, p. 588 (1817); Blyth, Cat. p. 202; Jerd. B. I. i, p. 427; MacMaster, J. A. S. B. xl, pt. ii, p. 210. Edolius forficatus, Horsf. Trans. Linn. Soc. xiii, p. 144 (1821). Buchanga albirictus, Hodgs. Ind. Rev. i, p. 326 (1837); Hume, N. & E. p. 186. Dicrurus minor, Blyth, Layard, A.M. N. H. (2) xiii, p. 129 (1854). Dicrourus longus, Temm., Bonap. Consp. Av. i, p. 352 (1850) ; Horsf. & M. Cat. i, p. 152; Godw.-Aust. J. A. S. B. xxxix, pt. ii, p. 99. Dicrurus cathaecus, Swinh. P. Z. S. 1871, p. 377. Dicrurus albirictus (Hodgs.), Hume, S. F. iii, p. 97. Buchanga atra (Herm.), Blyth & Wald. Birds Burm. p. 129; Sharpe, Cat. B. M. iii, p. 246; Hume & Dav. S. F. vi, p. 213; Anders. Yunnan Exped., Aves, p. 653; Legge, Birds Ceyl. p. 386; Hume, Cat. no. 278; Scully, S. F. viii, p. 270; Oates, B. B. i, p. 218; Barnes, Birds Bom. p. 154; Hume, S. F. xi, p. 98. Dicrurus ater (Herm.), Oates in Hume's N. & E. 2nd ed. i, p. 198.
The Common Drongo-Shrike, Jerd. ; Kolsa, Bojanga, Buchanga, Hind, in the South ; Finga, Beng.; Japal Kalchit, Punj.; Kunich, Kalcolachi, Sind; Thampal in the N. W. P.; Kotwal in the Deccan; Yeti-inta, Baradwa-jam, Passala-poli-gadu,Tel.; Kurri-Kurrumah,Tam.; Kari-Kuruvi, Tam. in Ceylon.
Coloration. The whole plumage deep black, everywhere glossed with steel-blue; a small white spot sometimes present close to the angle of the gape.
The young have the wings and the lower plumage brownish, and all the feathers of the lower plumage and under wing-coverts tipped with white.
It is only when very old that this species is entirely black. Few birds are without white tips to the under tail-coverts. Bill black; iris red ; feet and claws black.
Length about 12.5 ; tail 6 to 7 ; wing up to 6 ; tarsus .85 ; bill from gape 1.15.
The causes which govern the presence or absence of the white rictal spot are not yet known. This white spot is occasionally present in Chinese specimens, contrary to what is usually asserted.
The Black Drongo has been regarded by many ornithologists as separable into several races. In my opinion the differences of size and minor details of structure which exist in birds from various localities are not greater than might be expected from a species of this size - the Length of tail, one of the points frequently insisted upon, ranging from 6 to 7 inches only, and the Length of wing varying still less.
Distribution. The whole of India from Afghanistan to Assam, and from the Himalayas to Ceylon; the whole of the eastern portion of the Empire from Assam to the extreme south of Tenas¬serim. On the Himalayas this bird is found up to 5000 feet or even higher. It extends into China, Siam, and Cochin China. It appears to be absent from the Malay peninsula.
This Drongo is a partial migrant in many parts of the Empire, such as Assam and Pegu, and is more common in these Provinces during the cold weather than at other times.
Habits, &c. The King-Crow, as this species is termed by many in India, is a common and familiar bird, being found in the neighbourhood of bungalows and throughout the open and cultivated parts of the country. It perches on any exposed and commanding point it can find, and swoops on passing insects, frequently resting on the ground a second or two to complete its capture, and returning to its original or a similar perch close by. The note of this bird is metallic and very pleasant. The King-Crow breeds chiefly during May, June, and July. The nest is placed in a leafy bough of a tree, and is composed of fine twigs and grass-stems woven together and covered exteriorly with a good deal of cobweb. The eggs, usually four, but occasionally five, in number, are of two types: one is pure spotless white, the other pale salmon-colour with brownish-red spots. They measure 1.01 by .75.