Eurasian golden oriole

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Eurasian golden oriole
Oriole 2.jpg
Adult male
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Oriolidae
Genus: Oriolus
Species: O. oriolus
Binomial name
Oriolus oriolus
(Linnaeus, 1758)
Oriolus oriolus distribution map.png
     Summer      Winter
  • Coracias Oriolus

The Eurasian golden oriole or simply golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the oriole family of passerine birds breeding in Northern Hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant in Europe and western Asia and spends the winter season in central and southern Africa.

Golden orioles have an extremely large range with large populations that are apparently stable. Therefore, they are evaluated as least concern by BirdLife International.[1]

Taxonomy and systematics[edit]

The Eurasian golden oriole was originally described in the genus Coracias by Carl Linnaeus. Formerly, this species was treated as being conspecific with the Indian golden oriole until split in 2011.[2] A sub-population named turkestanica was considered by Charles Vaurie to be indistinguishable from O. o. oriolus.[3] Alternate names for the Eurasian golden oriole include the European golden oriole and western Eurasian golden oriole.


The name "oriole" was first used in the 18th century and is an adaptation of the scientific Latin genus name, which is derived from the Classical Latin "aureolus" meaning golden. Various forms of "oriole" have existed in Romance languages since the 12th and 13th centuries.[4] Albertus Magnus used the Latin form oriolus in about 1250 and erroneously stated that it was onomatopoeic because of the golden oriole's song. In medieval England its name, derived from the song, was the woodwele.


The male is striking in the typical oriole black and yellow plumage, but the female is a drabber green bird. Orioles are shy, and even the male is remarkably difficult to see in the dappled yellow and green leaves of the canopy. In flight they look somewhat like a thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances. The New World orioles are similar in appearance to the Oriolidae, but are icterids and unrelated to the Old World birds.

Their call is a screech like a jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard.

Distribution and habitat[edit]

The breeding range of this species spans from western Europe and Scandinavia east to China. They winter in central and southern Africa.[1] They generally migrate during the night, but may travel during the day in the spring migration. During the autumn migration they migrate via the Eastern Mediterranean where they feed on fruit; they are often considered a pest in this region because of this.[5]

The Eurasian golden oriole inhabits a range of habitats. In Western Europe they prefer open broadleaf forests and plantations, copses, riverine forest, orchards, large gardens; in Eastern Europe they may inhabit more continuous forest as well as mixed or coniferous forests. They generally avoid treeless habitats but may forage there. In their wintering habitat they are found in semi-arid to humid woodland, tall forests, riverine forest, woodland/savanna mosaic and savanna.[5]

Behaviour and ecology[edit]

Eggs of Oriolus oriolus MHNT

They feed on insects and fruit, using their bills to pick insects out of crevices. They build neat nests in tree forks and lay 3–6 eggs.


  1. ^ a b c BirdLife International (2016). "Oriolus oriolus". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Version 2016.3. International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved 24 February 2017. 
  2. ^ Jønsson, K. A.; Bowie, R. C. K.; Moyle, R. G.; Irestedt, M.; Christidis, L.; Norman, J. A.; Fjeldsa, J. (2010). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Oriolidae (Aves: Passeriformes)" (PDF). Ecography. 33 (2): 232–241. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06167.x. 
  3. ^ Vaurie, Charles. "Systematic notes on Palearctic birds. No. 32, Oriolidae, Dicruridae, Bombycillidae, Pycnonotidae, Nectariniidae, and Zosteropidae". American Museum Novitates. 1869: 1–28. 
  4. ^ "Oriole". Oxford English Dictionary (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. September 2005.  (Subscription or UK public library membership required.)
  5. ^ a b Walther, B.; Jones, P. (2008), "Family Oriolidae (Orioles)", in J., del Hoyo; A., Elliott; D. A., Christie, Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 13: Penduline-tits to Shrikes, Barcelona: Lynx Edicions, pp. 692–723, ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3 

External links[edit]