Thursday, June 1

Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo

   ›      ›   Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris

The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) belongs to the family of cuckoos, roadrunners, koels and malkohas, Cuculidae.

The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species are distributed in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. These cuckoo species resemble black drongos. There are two recognized subspecies of these cuckoos.

Overview & Quick Facts Description & Identification
Pictures of Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo Distribution & Range
Ecosystem & Habitat Diet & Feeding Behavior
Breeding Habits Migration & Movement Patterns
Conservation & Survival IUCN Status
Taxonomy & Classification Bird World

Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Overview

  • Scientific name: Surniculus lugubris
  • Species author: (Horsfield, 1821)
  • Synonyms/Protonym: Cuculus lugubris Horsfield, 1821
  • Family: Cuculidae › Cuculiformes › Aves › Chordata › Animalia
  • Vernacular names: English: Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo, Chinese: 乌鹃, French: Coucou surnicou, German: Drongokuckuck, Spanish: Cuclillo drongo colitruncado, Russian: Дронговая кукушка, Japanese: オウチュウカッコウ, Indonesian: Burung Kedasi Hitam
  • Other names: Asian Drongo-Cuckoo (Square-tailed)
  • Distribution: India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia, Philippines
  • Diet and feeding habits: caterpillars, spiders, beetles, termites, grasshoppers
  • IUCN status listing: Least Concern (LC)
The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) is closely related to fork-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus dicruroides) and Philippine drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus velutinus).

The two recognized subspecies of these square-tailed cuckoo are: Surniculus lugubris barussarum Oberholser, 1912 and Surniculus lugubris lugubris (Horsfield, 1821).

Appearance, physical description and identification

The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) is a small cuckoo, measuring 25 cm in length and weighing 25 to 45 grams. Both the sexes look alike.

The overall plumage of these square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species is glossy blue-black in adult birds. The wing-coverts, inner secondaries and tertials are black with greenish tinge. The underparts are blackish with brownish tinge.

The vent region and undertail have slight white barring. The tail is long and square. There are white specks on the tip of tail feathers. The bill is black and straight. The irises are black. The feet are dark gray. The square-tailed drongo cuckoo call is a loud, piercing sharp whistling sound.
Indian birds - Picture of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris
Birds of India - Image of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris by Francesco Veronesi

Birds of India - Photo of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris
Indian birds - Picture of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris by Eric Gropp

Indian birds - Image of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris
Birds of India - Photo of Square-tailed drongo-cuckoo - Surniculus lugubris by Melvin Yap

Origin, geographical range and distribution

These square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species are distributed in India, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Indonesia and Philippines. Unconfirmed reports of their sightings were recorded from Nepal.

In India, these cuckoo species are distributed in the states of Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram.

The square-tailed cuckoo nominate subspecies S. l. lugubris is distributed in Java and Bali Islands in Indonesia. The subspecies S. l. barussarum is distributed in the rest of the range.

Ecosystem and habitat

These square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species have moderate forest dependence. These species occur in altitudes from 0 to 2100 meters. The artificial ecosystems of these square-tailed cuckoo species include rural gardens and urban parks.

The natural ecosystems of these species include tropical and subtropical moist lowland forests, semi-evergreen forests, tropical and subtropical dry shrublands, swamp forests, riparian forests and tropical and subtropical mangrove forests.

Diet and feeding behavior

The diet of these square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species is mostly insects. Caterpillars, beetles, swarming termites and ants, spiders, grasshoppers, cicadas, and locust are their primary food. They are mostly arboreal. They glean the prey from foliage or the ground.

Reproduction and breeding habits

These square-tailed cuckoos are brood parasites, laying eggs in the nest of other birds and rely on the host to raise their young. The breeding season coincides with breeding season of the local host species.

The breeding season of these square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species is from April to July in northeast India. The laying season is from May to July in Malay peninsula. The breeding season is during April and May in Indonesia.

Normally one egg is laid in the nests of host species. In India, the hosts are small babblers. The cuckoo hatchling may heave out other eggs and nestlings of the host.

Migration and movement patterns

The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo species are partially migratory birds.

Summer breeding populations of these drongo cuckoo species are found in Bhutan, northeast India, Bangladesh and east Myanmar. They migrate to southeast Asian countries for wintering.

The populations of these cuckoo species in southern Myanmar, eastern and southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Philippines are resident birds.

Post breeding, the juveniles may disperse and establish in new locations within the range. They may make local movements for feeding and breeding within their range.

Conservation and survival

The global population size of the square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) has not been quantified. The overall population trend of these species is reported to be decreasing. Throughout its range it is reported to be uncommon to common. The generation length is 4.2 years. Its distribution size is about 7,750,000 sq.km.

The square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) does not approach the thresholds for being Vulnerable, either under the range size criterion, or under the population trend criterion, or under the population size criterion. The ongoing habitat destruction is the main threat that may endanger the survival of these cuckoo species.

IUCN and CITES status

The IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) has categorized and evaluated the cuckoo species and has listed it as of "Least Concern". The CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) status is ‘Not Evaluated’ for the square-tailed drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris).
Taxonomy and scientific classification of Surniculus lugubris
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Cuculiformes
Family:Cuculidae
Subfamily:-
Genus:Surniculus
Species:S. lugubris
Binomial name:Surniculus lugubris
IUCN status listing:
Least Concern
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1.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/francesco_veronesi/34363359095/ (cropped)
Image author: Francesco Veronesi | License: CC BY-SA 2.0 as on 6/1/17
2.Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Square-tailed_Drongo-Cuckoo.jpg (cropped)
Image author: Eric Gropp | License: CC BY 2.0 as on 6/1/17
3.Image source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/mjmyap/22931365611/
Image author: Melvin Yap | License: CC BY-NC-ND 2.0 as on 6/1/17
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