Tablas Drongo Dicrurus menagei


Justification of Red List Category
This recently split species qualifies as Endangered because it is likely to have a very small population, which occupies a very small range in which its habitat is severely fragmented, and forest clearance, mainly for agriculture, is driving on-going declines in the extent and quality of suitable habitat, and probably causing declines in the population. It may be confined to just one forest block with no formal protection; any further reduction in this area of habitat is likely to qualify the species for uplisting to Critically Endangered, thus close monitoring is required.

Population justification
The species does not occur at high density even within the little remaining forest cover on Tablas: the global population may possibly number fewer than 50 pairs, and is placed in the band 50-249 mature individuals (D. Allen in litt. 2011). This equates to 75-374 individuals in total, rounded here to 70-400 individuals.

Trend justification
This species's population is suspected to be in decline owing to continued deforestation, probably driven largely by the expansion of agriculture.

Distribution and population

Dicrurus menagei is endemic to the island of Tablas in the Philippines (del Hoyo et al. 2009). By 1997 it was considered probably extinct; however, observations since 1998 have confirmed that the species is extant, albeit rare (Allen 2006, R. Hutchinson in litt. 2012). The population size has not been quantified, but it has been surmised that there could be fewer than 50 pairs remaining (D. Allen in litt. 2011, 2016).


The species inhabits relatively mature closed-canopy forest, with occasional records from the edge of clearings, although it is absent from open areas (del Hoyo et al. 2009). It has been observed in the mid-canopy of tall trees, often near streams. It is insectivorous, catching prey by hawking and foraging amongst leaves and on trunks. The species's nest is described as a small cup made of thin twigs and vegetation fibres, coarsely woven into a three-quarters sphere and suspended from slender branches amongst foliage in the outer part of a tall tree, high above a stream (del Hoyo et al. 2009).


Evidence suggests that extensive forest clearance has taken place on Tablas since the beginning of the 20th century, with a substantial proportion of the island now used for cultivation and livestock-rearing (del Hoyo et al. 2009). Rice fields are common in lowland areas, while rough pasture and coconut plantations are found in the hills. A few forests remain, mainly in the north of the island, with the largest areas around and between Mt Palaupau and Mt Progreso. Remnants of original forest over 10 m tall are present only around the summit and south-eastern slopes of Mt Palaupau, where forest is maintained as a watershed for nearby settlements (del Hoyo et al. 2009). There are reportedly very few registered forest patches that exceed 100 ha, and apparently a complete lack of mature forest in the south of the island (Allen 2006, del Hoyo et al. 2009). Small-scale logging is reported to still be a threat (del Hoyo et al. 2009), implying that suitable habitat continues to be lost, but the rate of loss is probably no longer rapid (D. Allen in litt. 2011).

Conservation actions

Conservation Actions Underway
Forest on Mt Palaupau is protected as a watershed (del Hoyo et al. 2009). No other targeted actions are known for this species.

Conservation Actions Proposed
Carry out surveys to assess the population size. Study the species's ecology and life history. Monitor population trends. Monitor the extent and condition of suitable habitat. Increase the area of remaining forest that is afforded protection. Assess the feasibility and effectiveness of forest restoration, especially in the south of the island. Initiate education and awareness campaigns to raise the species's profile and instil pride in local people.


36 cm. Distinctive drongo with very long and deeply forked tail, with outer rectrices curving rather widely outwards and slightly upwards (del Hoyo et al. 2009). General colour of plumage is dull black with a purple tinge giving velvety, rather than glossy, appearance. It has short neck hackles and short scanty breast spangles. Iris dark brown; bill and legs black. Sexes similar, with the female being slightly smaller. Juveniles has brownish-black head and underparts, and iridescent blue-black wings and mantle; tail splayed at end. Similar spp Hair-crested Drongo D. hottentottus best told by more narrow tail end which has similar shape with upturned outer rectrices, although their ranges apparently do not overlap. Voice Poorly known and seems less vocal than congeners. Typical call a 1-second rasping sound like that of a cicada (Cicadidae), uttered irregularly at intervals of 2-10 seconds; also a rasping dzak-tess-ik, in duet occasionally answered with short jieeh. Also utters a tsee-ik call, sometimes accompanied by opening and closing of tail in scissor-like fashion (del Hoyo et al. 2009).


Text account compilers
Taylor, J., Westrip, J.

Hutchinson, R., Allen, D.

Recommended citation
BirdLife International (2020) Species factsheet: Dicrurus menagei. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020. Recommended citation for factsheets for more than one species: BirdLife International (2020) IUCN Red List for birds. Downloaded from http://www.birdlife.org on 15/08/2020.