Golden Oriole

Golden Oriole

Eurasian golden oriole, European golden oriole, Western Eurasian golden oriole

Oriolus oriolus
Population size
17.4-32 mln
Life Span
10 yrs
42 km/h
65-67 g
24-25 cm
44-47 cm

Golden orioles are small shy songbirds. Males are golden yellow in color with black wings that have yellow-tipped coverts. Females are almost greenish with a yellowish-white belly. Despite the bright colors of males it's quite difficult to spot these birds in the yellow and green leaves of the canopy due to their secretive habits.


Golden orioles breed from western Europe and Scandinavia east to China. They winter in central and southern Africa. These birds live in various habitats. In Western Europe they prefer open broadleaf forests and plantations, copses, riverine forest, orchards, large gardens; in Eastern Europe, they may inhabit the more continuous forest as well as mixed or coniferous forests. They generally avoid treeless habitats but may forage there. In their wintering habitat, Golden orioles are found in semi-arid to humid woodland, tall forests, riverine forest, woodland/savanna mosaic, and savanna.

Golden Oriole habitat map

Climate zones

Habits and Lifestyle

Golden orioles are diurnal birds but generally migrate during the night; however, in the spring migration, they may travel during the day. They are usually seen alone, in pairs, or in small groups. Golden orioles forage on the ground and in tree canopy using their bills to pick insects out of crevices. These birds communicate with the help of various calls. Their alarm call is a screech like a jay, but the song is a beautiful fluting weela-wee-ooo or or-iii-ole, unmistakable once heard. Breeding pairs often sing in duets when females answer to the males' song with a short skweeeeer.

Group name
Seasonal behavior

Diet and Nutrition

Golden orioles are carnivores (insectivores) and herbivores (frugivores). They feed mainly on small insects and fruits and sometimes seeds, nectar, and pollen. On rare occasions, they may catch small mammals, small lizards, eggs, and nestlings.

Mating Habits

16-17 days
16-20 days
3-5 eggs

Golden orioles are monogamous and form long-lasting pair bonds. Males usually arrive at the breeding areas several days before the females. Orioles place their nests high in a tree towards the edge of the crown. The deep cup-shaped nest is suspended below a horizontal fork of thin branches. It is built by the female, but the male will sometimes gather some of the material. The nest is held in place by plant fibers up to 40 cm (16 in) in length and lined with fine grass, feathers, and wool. The clutch is usually between 3 and 5 eggs. These are laid at daily intervals early in the morning. The eggs can be white, cream, or very pale pink and are decorated with black marks which are sometimes concentrated at the larger end. The eggs are mainly incubated by the female but the male will incubate for short periods to allow the female to feed. The eggs hatch after 16-17 days. The chicks are fed by both parents but are mostly brooded by the female. They fledge after 16-20 days and can breed at 2 or 3 years of age.


Population threats

The main threats to Golden orioles include severe weather, persecution by farmers in some areas, habitat loss, and deforestation.

Population number

According to the IUCN Red List, the total Golden oriole population size is around 17,480,000-32,000,000 mature individuals. In Europe, the breeding population consists of 3, 400 000-7, 100 000 breeding pairs, equating to 10, 200, 000-21, 300, 000 individuals. Overall, currently, this species is classified as Least Concern (LC) on the IUCN Red List and its numbers today are stable.

Fun Facts for Kids

  • Golden orioles use whistles to communicate with each other but when they want to inform nearby birds about potential predators they will produce harsh, alarm calls.
  • In flight Golden orioles look somewhat like a thrush, strong and direct with some shallow dips over longer distances. They can also hover for short periods with fast-beating wings.
  • During the autumn migration, Golden orioles migrate via the Eastern Mediterranean where they feed on fruit and are often considered a pest in this region because of this.
  • People that live in the northern parts of Europe usually predict the start of spring with the return of Golden orioles.


2. Golden Oriole on The IUCN Red List site -

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