Tuesday, June 1, 2010

White bellied Drongo

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

A number of White-bellied Drongos started calling our garden home a couple of years ago. I first noticed them along the drive way one evening as they were feeding on insects which were attracted to one  of the lamps. They were perched on a tree and were diving after the insects which flew close to the light. After this sighting I kept an eye out for them and found them in the back garden during the early evening. In the next few days I was able to identify their routine and their perches. Photographing the birds was also made easier by the fact that they allowed me to come within 6-10 feet of them.  I was fortunate enough to be able to shoot from the same height as their perches because they frequented the trees near our balconies.

More images and info after the jump.

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The White bellied Drongo is a common bird from the lowlands to the mid hills of Sri Lanka. Interestingly, this is the only species of Drongo to have white underparts. According to the "Photographic guide to Birds of Sri Lanka" there are two races which are endemic to Sri Lanka. The wet zone form, White vented (pictured here), has less white confined to the vent area. The dry zone  form, White bellied, which has more white on its underparts. These birds are very good mimics and can imitate a number of birds and animals. 

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

The White bellied Drongo is found only in South Asia, mainly in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal. These birds are insectivorous and mainly black in colour. The young birds are all black and can be often mistaken with the Black Drongo. The fork on the tail is not as deep as that of the Black Drongo.  the size of these birds vary clinally with northern birds being larger.   

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

Birds may be seen individually or in groups of up to 3. They perch upright and capture insects in the air with acrobatic sallies. The breeding season is from February to July. The nest is shaped like a cup and is similar to that of the Black Drongo. However, the nest of the White bellied Drongo is made up of more twigs and is well lined with grass. A clutch consists of two to four eggs which are pale salmon in colour and has reddish blotches on the broad end. 

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
  
The White bellied Drongo builds its nest around 20 - 30 feet off the ground. They are aggressive birds and will take on potential threats which are larger than themselves. They have been observed imitating the alarm calls of squirrels  and the meowing of cats when mobbing. This species is also know to join mixed species feeding flocks. Although this bird is insectivorous, it is opportunistic and will prey on small birds.

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

A White bellied Drongo photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka
A White bellied Drong photographed in Colombo, Sri Lanka

All these images were captured with a Canon 7D and the 100-400mm lens.


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