Square-tailed Drongo

(Dicrurus ludwigii)

dummy - Square-tailed Drongo Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa - 27-Jul-14 dummy - Square-tailed Drongo St Lucia Estuary, South Africa - 04-Oct-14 dummy - Square-tailed Drongo Tembe Elephant Park, South Africa - 23-Apr-14

The square-tailed drongo (Dicrurus ludwigii) is the smallest species of drongo native to sub-Saharan Africa. It reaches a length of 18-19 cm (7-7.5 in). In appearance it is very similar to the fork-tailed drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis), with a black body and red eyes. In both species males are more glossy than females. It differs in size, as it is much smaller. It has a shorter and markedly less forked tail, and it is sometimes seen as totally square if the feathers are aligned correctly. Although there are som physical differences between the species, the best way to tell them apart is perhaps on habitats. The square-tailed drongo prefers denser forests, and the fork-tailed drongo is typically found in more open habitats.

Diet and habitat

As mentioned, the square-tailed drongo prefers dense forests, and is very often found in riverine forests, evergreen forests and tree plantations with indigenous undergrowth. It mainly eats insects, which it hunt from a perch or by catching them in the air. It often forages close to other species of birds and will often steal food from them, a behaviour known as kleptoparasitism. It will also feed on nectar.


This species is monogamous and a breeding pair will stay together for life. The nest is a sturdy little cup made up of grass, twigs and other similar plant debris. It is bound together using spider webs. The nest is often situated in a fork in tree, typically quite high up close to the canopy and hidden behind vegetation cover. The female lays 2-4 eggs.


The square-tailed drongo is seen a lot less than its larger cousin the fork-tailed drongo because it prefers denser habitats where it is harder to spot. It is still a common bird within its smaller distribution and the species is not threatened. It is listed as least concern on the IUCN Red List.

Least Concern - Square-tailed Drongo