Golden-Oriole (Oriolus oriolus)


[order] PASSERIFORMES | [family] Oriolidae | [latin] Oriolus oriolus | [UK] Golden-Oriole | [FR] Loriot d’Europe | [DE] Pirol | [ES] Oropendola Dorada Europea | [NL] Wielewaal


Genus Species subspecies Breeding Range Breeding Range 2 Non Breeding Range

Physical charateristics

Rather large, colorful passerine, with strong bill, long wings, and quite long tail. Male bright yellow with black wings and black on tail. Female immature sap-green above, cream with dull dusky streaks below, with blackish wings. A shy tree-dweller, but song loud and distinctive. Sexes dissimilar, no seasonal variation.

Listen to the sound of Golden-Oriole


Copyright remark: Most sounds derived from xeno-canto

wingspan min.: 45 cm wingspan max.: 47 cm
size min.: 23 cm size max.: 25 cm
incubation min.: 16 days incubation max.: 18 days
fledging min.: 17 days fledging max.: 18 days
broods: 1   eggs min.: 2  
      eggs max.: 5  


Eurasia : West Eurasia


In west Palearctic, breeds in middle latitudes, penetrating rather higher in continental interior and rather lower near warm ocean coasts. An arboreal but not a forest bird, and predominantly a lowland dweller, even in Switzerland not normally breeding above 600 m. Avoids large dense forests, especially of conifers, and also terrain which is treeless, or lacking in groups, lines, strips, or park-line open stands of mature deciduous trees with ample crowns well above ground.
Nature and structure of undergrowth, sward, or herbage immaterial, as lower vegetation and ground surface are little visited.


Eggs laid from early May to late June or early July, earlier in south than in north. One brood and replacement clutches only after early loss. The nest is built in a fork of thin branch high in tree towards outer edge of crown, more rarely between parallel branches. Occasionally hard against trunk. Nest is a slung hammock-like below fork; foundation of plant fibres, grass, dry leaves, cloth, paper, string, wool, moss, bark, etc. it is held together by grass or bark fibres 20-40 cm long looped, or stuck with saliva, and pulled more or less tight between support branches. The nest is lined with fine grass, wool, feathers, down, cocoons, small pieces of paper, etc. Clutch: 3-4 (2-6) eggs,Incubation 16-17 days, by both sexes, Male for very short periods while female feeds.
Young fledge after 16-17(-20) days.

Feeding habits

Insects and berries. Feeds mainly in tops of trees, picking items from foliage. Also catches insects in flight and sometimes feeds on ground among herbs.
Note, however, that bathing behaviour involves flights over water, and will drink in flight like Swallow, otherwise drinks by sucking


This species has an extremely large range, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the range size criterion (Extent of Occurrence <20,000 km2 combined with a declining or fluctuating range size, habitat extent/quality, or population size and a small number of locations or severe fragmentation). The population trend appears to be stable, and hence the species does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population trend criterion (>30% decline over ten years or three generations). The population size is extremely large, and hence does not approach the thresholds for Vulnerable under the population size criterion (<10,000 mature individuals with a continuing decline estimated to be >10% in ten years or three generations, or with a specified population structure). For these reasons the species is evaluated as Least Concern.
Oriolus oriolus is a widespread summer visitor to much of Europe, which accounts
for less than half of its global breeding range. Its European breeding population is
very large (>3,400,000 pairs), and was stable between 1970-1990. Although there
were declines in a number of countries?notably France and Turkey?during 1990-
2000, the vast majority of populations in the east of its European range, including
key ones in Russia and Romania, were stable, and the species declined only slightly
Golden-Oriole status Least Concern


Western and northern race, nominate oriolus, migratory; central Asian race, kundoo, partially migratory. Nominate oriolus winters in sub-Saharan Africa, north to Cameroon, Central African Republic, Zaire, and south-east Kenya, south to eastern Namibia and extreme south of South Africa; also regular on Zanzibar. Winter records very limited in comparison with observed passage, and mostly described as regular but uncommon; probably widespread in preferred habitat of densely foliaged trees, but inconspicuous, and liable to confusion with African Golden Oriole O. auratus.
Movement chiefly nocturnal; some diurnal movements noted, especially in spring; passage concentrated, with dates varying little from year to year; apparently migrates regularly through mountains, e.g. Carpathians and Swiss Alps.
In autumn, heading within Europe ranges between south and east, with many recoveries in north-east and south-east Italy east to western Turkey of birds ringed western France east to Hungary; from Mediterranean, change to more southward direction required to reach winter quarters. Autumn passage regular throughout north-east Africa and as far west as Tunisia. Spring passage extends further west than autumn, indicating loop migration for many birds: widespread in central and northern Algerian Sahara, and conspicuous in North Africa west to eastern Morocco. In Mediterranean area south of 42 degrees N, all autumn recoveries are east of 17 degrees E, all spring recoveries west of 19 degrees E. Probably a migratory divide between France and Iberia: evidence suggests Iberian and north-west African birds move west of south, presumably mostly in non-stop flight, to winter quarters as yet undiscovered, perhaps south-east of Senegal in Guinea area. Autumn passage regular in small numbers at Strait of Gibraltar.
Autumn migration begins early, with most breeding areas vacated late July to August. Regular on passage throughout Switzerland mid-July to mid-September, and passage in Camargue ends mid-September. Many stop over in Mediterranean to build up fat reserves, feeding on fruit. First birds reach North Africa in August, with main passage September-October. Present in Cameroon and Central African Republic from October, and main arrival in East Africa October. Spring migration is late; vacates winter quarters March-April, and returns to breeding grounds late April to May, when trees in leaf.

Distribution map

Golden-Oriole distribution range map

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