The name DRONGO is, originally, from the indigenous language of Madagascar, where it refers to local species, but is now used to refer to all members of the sub-family of small passerine birds of the Old World Tropics in the family —— DICRURIDAE.
The family DICRURIDAE, is believed to be most likely of Indo-Malay origin, with a colonization of Africa about 15 million years ago. Dispersal across the Wallace Line, in Australasia, is estimated to have been, more recent, around 6 million years ago. These insectivorous birds are, usually, found in open forests or bush. Most are black or dark grey, in colour, sometimes with metallic tints. They have long-forked tails ; some Asian species have elaborate tail decorations. They have short legs and sit very upright, whilst perched, like a Shrike. They fly-catch or take prey from the ground. Some Drongos, especially the Greater racket-tailed Drongo, are noted for their ability, to mimic other birds and even mammals. 2-4 eggs are laid in a nest, high up in a tree. Despite their small size, they are aggressive and fearless, and will attack much larger species, if their nest or young are threatened.
The word DRONGO is used, in Australia, as a mild form of insult tantamount to the term “idiot”. This usage derives from an Australian race-horse, of the same name, in the 1920s, that never won —– despite many starts. Several species of animals and birds respond to the Drongo’s “alarm calls”, which often warn of the presence of a predator. Fork-tailed or Common Drongos, in the Kalahari Desert, are known to use “alarm calls”, in the absence of a predator, to cause animals to flee and abandon food, which they eat, getting up to 23% of their food this way. They not only use their own “alarm calls”, but imitate those of other species, either their victim’s or that of another species’, that the victim responds to. If the call of one species is NOT EFFECTIVE, perhaps because of habituation, the Drongo will try another. 51 different calls are known to be imitated. Researchers have considered the possibility that these Drongos possess THEORY OF MIND, not fully shown in any animal, other than humans, but doubt this capability.