At first glance, it’s a dead ringer for the Racket-tailed Drongo, but then it lacks the rackets in the tail feathers or the prominent crest. The tail is finely twirled. Meet the Hair-crested Drongo (Dicrurus hottentottus), also known as Spangled Drongo.
The Hair-crested Drongo has a thin, hair-like crest on its forehead. It behaves much like the other drongos we know. In India it has a patchy but reasonably widespread distribution in lowland moist deciduous forests. There are several subspecies spread out all over Southeast Asia.
I encountered the Hair-crested Drongo quite abundantly in the Dooars of northern Bengal in early April. It was frequently seen in mixed hunting flocks along with ioras, barbets, orioles and starlings. Often, I found it being mobbed or chased by jungle babblers and bulbuls. Most of the birds I saw were solitary, although non-intimate dispersed groups of three or four birds were also common. Young individuals appeared to sport whitish scale-like markings on the breast. The eyes appeared to be dark maroon.
The birds in the photographs were pictured at Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in northern Bengal.
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