[order] Passeriformes | [family] Oriolidae | [latin] Oriolus oriolus | [UK] Golden-Oriole | [FR] Loriot de Europe | [DE] Pirol | [ES] Oropéndola Dorada Europea | [IT] Rigogolo europeo | [NL] Wielewaal

Wielewaal determination

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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.

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.

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 overall.

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 a large range, with an estimated global Extent of Occurrence of 10,000,000 km². It has a large global population, including an estimated 6,700,000-14,000,000 individuals in Europe (BirdLife International in prep.). Global population trends have not been quantified, but the species is not believed to approach the thresholds for the population decline criterion of the IUCN Red List (i.e. declining more than 30% in ten years or three generations). For these reasons, the species is evaluated as Least Concern. [conservation status from birdlife.org]

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.

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, Zaïre, 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°N, all autumn recoveries are east of 17°E, all spring recoveries west of 19°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 Sénégal 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.