“[For this post on the Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo] I am using nomenclature from “Cuckoos of the World, by Johannes Erritzøe, Clive F. Mann, Frederik P. Brammer and Richard A. Fuller. Helm, 2012” which has split the Asian Drongo-cuckoo into the Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus lugubris) and the Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo (Surniculus dicruroides).
“There appears to be little to differentiate these birds except for the forked tail which is not always the easiest of features. The Square-tailed Drongo-cuckoo is resident in my region while the Fork-tailed Drongo-cuckoo is a migrant.
“I was fortunate to meet up with at least 3 birds feeding together in the same location (there were possibly 4 birds). This is unusual as social behaviour but I have seen other cuckoos also congregating when the food source is abundant (here hairy caterpillars).
“A rare possibility is a family unit, as some work has shown that parents continue to watch over their young, even after leaving the parasitic host.
“There was also a Plaintive Cuckoo (Cacomantis merulinus threnodes) feeding at the same site and there was occasional conflict between this Plaintive and the Drongo-cuckoos – the Plaintive Cuckoo attempted to chase them off its feeding patch.
“The birds were very confiding and I attempted many close up images of plumage/features. These first 4 images are general images to show the 3 birds in different lighting and postures. There appears to be a slight ‘gape’ in some of them but I think this is the yellow oral cavity showing. Note the white thighs in image #4 which are usually hard to see (also visible in image #3). Images #2 and #4 show the white tips to the tail that are often present.
“Some close-up views of the birds in different lighting. Note the white patch on the nape that is usually hard to see (Images #6 and #7). “Cuckoos of the World” queries whether this is a feature left over from the juvenile state. All 3 birds I saw had it. A feeding image in #8.”
Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS
Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
23rd October 2018
Location: Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia
Habitat: Secondary growth a fringe of the city