Friday, March 7, 2008
Golden Oriole or Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus) is the only member of the oriole family of passerine birds to breed in northern hemisphere temperate regions. It is a summer migrant to Europe and western Asia, wintering in the tropics.
It is a bird of tall deciduous trees in woodland, orchards or parks. The tiny British population breeds in commercial Black poplar plantations, notably at the RSPB Lakenheath Fen nature reserve, where a watchpoint is operated during nesting.
The neat nest is built in a fork in a tree, and contains 3-6 eggs. The food is insects and fruit, found in the tree canopies where the orioles spend much of their time.
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.
The flight is somewhat like a thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances.
The call is a screech like a jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard.
The name "oriole" was first used in English in the 18th century, and is an application of the scientific Latin genus name, which is ultimately from the Classical Latin "aureolus" golden. Various forms of "oriole" have existed in Romance languages since the 12th and 13th centuries. Albertus Magnus used the Latin form oriolus in about 1250, and stated, erroneously, that it was onomatopoeic, from the song of the Golden Oriole.
The New World orioles are similar in appearance to the Oriolidae, but are icterids unrelated to the Old World birds.