One of our most cosmopolitan and abundant bird species, the Fork-tailed Drongo inhabits a wide range of habitats ranging from grasslands with a sprinkling of trees to forest edges, favoring open woodlands and savannas. It has also adapted very well to exotic plantations, suburban parks and gardens. They feed mainly on insects and other invertebrates, but have also been noted feeding on small lizards, fish, eggs and birds. Adults measure ± 25cm long and weigh around 44g.
Fork-tailed Drongos are feisty birds, often mobbing large raptors and mammalian predators much bigger than themselves. They’re often seen at veld fires catching insects trying to escape the flames, or following large mammals around to catch the insects disturbed into flight while the big herbivores are moving around – even using the backs of these animals as perches from which to launch an attack. Fork-tailed Drongos are excellent mimics – they will even imitate the alarm calls of other birds or small carnivores, like meerkats, to startle them into dropping whatever food they might have found in order to steal it.
Fork-tailed Drongos form monogamous pairs. The breeding season in this species spans spring and summer. Their nests are small cups built of fine plant material and spiderweb, usually suspended like a hammock between two twigs in a tree or shrub. Clutches of 2-5 eggs are incubated by both parents for between 2 and 3 weeks, with the chicks leaving the nest around 3 weeks after hatching.
The Fork-tailed Drongo is very widely distributed over sub-Saharan Africa and is listed as being of least concern by the IUCN. In South Africa they can be seen in all provinces, avoiding only the mostly treeless central grasslands and the western arid scrublands.