Golden Oriole

Oriolus oriolus

24cm

Appearance

The bill is red and the wings and tail are relatively long. The sexes differ. Males are a vivid yellow almost all over, with sections of black on the tail and wings, and just before the eye. Females are less vivid in colour and the yellow parts may have a slight green tinge; their bellies are pale buffish and have delicate streaking. The wings are dark, the rump is yellow, and the strength of the yellow on the head varies from female to female. Juveniles are similar to females but duller, however the streaking is heavier and the greenish tinge more obvious.

Habitat

When in Britain, the Golden Oriole has a propensity to visit areas of poplar growth. May also visit other woodland territories, but rarely forests. Migrant birds may also be spotted on offshore islands.

Character

This is a timid bird that often dwells out of sight in the height of trees. Usually seen in pairs or in solitude, and swoops upwards just prior to landing.

Food

Diet includes insects and their larvae, and fruits.

Breeding

Males arrive on territory before female mates, and they create a nest that resembles a hammock in a branch fork. Female lays 3 or 4 eggs which both parents then incubate for 16-17 days. Both parents also tend to the young, which fledge at about 16-17 days old.

Population

Breeding numbers are low in the region, and have decreased significantly over the last 15 years. Pairs are now at an all-time low, with only two pairs in total; these are found at a location in East Anglia. About 100 other Golden Orioles are seen in the region when they misfire on their spring migration course; they usually arrive around May and depart in August.

Observation Tips

Though it is spectacular in colour, the Golden Oriole is timid in nature and can therefore be difficult to spot, and its active nature makes it hard to keep sight of for longer periods. Its song is often the best giveaway of its presence, but even then it takes great will and dedication to gain a prolonged view.

Voice

The song is often compared to a flute, as it is melodic and whistle-like: ‘wee-lo-weeeoo’. Also has some more guttural calls, chattering and screeches.
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