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the web of life in southern Africa

Dicrurus ludwigii (Square-tailed drongo) 

Kleinbyvanger [Afrikaans]; Intengwana [Xhosa]; iNtengwana [Zulu]; Rechtstaartdrongo [Dutch]; Drongo de Ludwig [French]; Geradschwanzdrongo, Kleinder drongo [German]; Drongo-de-cauda-quadrada [Portuguese]

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Deuterostomia > Chordata > Craniata > Vertebrata (vertebrates)  > Gnathostomata (jawed vertebrates) > Teleostomi (teleost fish) > Osteichthyes (bony fish) > Class: Sarcopterygii (lobe-finned fish) > Stegocephalia (terrestrial vertebrates) > Tetrapoda (four-legged vertebrates) > Reptiliomorpha > Amniota > Reptilia (reptiles) > Romeriida > Diapsida > Archosauromorpha > Archosauria > Dinosauria (dinosaurs) > Saurischia > Theropoda (bipedal predatory dinosaurs) > Coelurosauria > Maniraptora > Aves (birds) > Order: Passeriformes > Family: Dicruridae

Dicrurus ludwigii (Square-tailed drongo)  

Square-tailed drongo. [photo Johan van Rensburg ]


Distribution and habitat

In southern Africa, it is locally common in Mozambique bordering on Zimbabwe, Swaziland, Limpopo Province and coastal areas of KwaZulu-natal, marginally extending into the Eastern Cape. It generally prefers closed canopy evergreen woodland with sporadic clearings, also occurring in gallery forest along watercourses and alien Eucalyptus plantations with indigenous undergrowth.

Distribution of Square-tailed drongo in southern Africa, based on statistical smoothing of the records from first SA Bird Atlas Project ( Animal Demography unit, University of Cape Town; smoothing by Birgit Erni and Francesca Little). Colours range from dark blue (most common) through to yellow (least common). See here for the latest distribution from the SABAP2.  


It eats a wide variety of mostly large insects, often hunting from a perch on the border of a clearing, hawking its prey aerially. It also forages in mixed-species flocks, sometimes stealing the food caught by other birds (a behaviour known as kleptoparasitism). The following food items have been recorded in its diet:


  • The nest (see image above) is a well-built cup made of leaf petioles, twigs, tendrils, fibres and lichen, bound together with strands of spider web. It is usually suspended between the two branches of a fork in a tree, often near the edge of thick forest.
Dicrurus ludwigii (Square-tailed drongo) 

Square-tailed drongo nest, Haroni, Zimbabwe. [photo Warwick Tarboton ]

Square-tailed drongo on its nest. [photo Jeff Poklen ]

  • Egg-laying season is from September-January, peaking from October-November.


Not threatened.


  • Hockey PAR, Dean WRJ and Ryan PG 2005. Roberts - Birds of southern Africa, VIIth ed. The Trustees of the John Voelcker Bird Book Fund, Cape Town.