Old World oriole
Taxonomy and systematics
The family Oriolidae comprises the piopios, figbirds, pitohuis and the Old World orioles. The piopios were added 2011, having been formerly placed in the family Turnagridae. Several other genera have been proposed to split up the genus Oriolus. For example, the African black-headed species are sometimes placed in a separate genus, Baruffius. The family Oriolidae is not related to the New World orioles, despite their similar size, diet, behaviour and contrasting plumage patterns. Rather, these similarities are an example of convergent evolution.
There are three extant genera in the family Oriolidae:
- Genus Sphecotheres – figbirds (3 species)
- Genus Pitohui – pitohuis (4 species)
- Genus Oriolus – orioles (29 species)
There are at least two extinct genera in the family Oriolidae:
The orioles and figbirds are medium-sized passerines, around 20–30 cm in length, with the females only slightly smaller than the males. The beak is slightly curved and hooked, and, except in the figbirds, as long again as the head. The plumage of most species is bright and showy, although the females often have duller plumage than the males do. The plumage of many Australasian orioles mimics that of friarbirds (a genus of large honeyeaters), probably to reduce aggression against the smaller orioles.
Distribution and habitat
The family is distributed across Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The few temperate nesting species are migratory, and some tropical species also show seasonal movements.
Behaviour and ecology
Orioles are monogamous, breeding in territorial pairs (although the Australasian figbird, and possibly also the other figbirds, breed in loose colonies). Nesting sites may be chosen near aggressive species such as drongos, shrikes or friarbirds, which confer a degree of protection. The nest is a deep woven cup suspended like a hammock from a branch. They usually lay two or three eggs, but as many as six have been recorded.
Food and feeding
Orioles are arboreal and tend to feed in the canopy. Many species are able to survive in open forests and woodlands, although a few are restricted to closed forest. They are opportunistic omnivores, with the main components of their diet being fruit, berries, arthropods, and nectar.
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- Zuccon, D. & Ericson, P. G. (2012). "Molecular and morphological evidences place the extinct New Zealand endemic Turnagra capensis in the Oriolidae". Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution. 62 (1): 414–26. doi:10.1016/j.ympev.2011.10.013. PMID 22056604.
- Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Orioles, drongos & fantails". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
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- Jønsson, K.A.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Moyle, R.G.; Irestedt, M.; Christidis, L.; Norman, J.A.; Fjeldså, J. (2010). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Oriolidae (Aves: Passeriformes)". Ecography. 33 (2): 232–241. doi: .
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