oriole, common name applied to various perching birds of the Old (family Oriolidae) and New (family Icteridae) Worlds. The European orioles are allied to the crows, while the American orioles, of the hangnest group, belong to the blackbird and meadowlark family. Old World orioles are found in forests and are large birds (8–12 in./20–30 cm). They are swift fliers. Orioles have clear calls and some are very good mimics. Mainly insectivorous, the Old World orioles also eat fruits, mainly berries. These orioles build cup-shaped nests in which to lay their clutches of two to five eggs. Both sexes incubate the eggs. The golden oriole of Europe is a beautiful orange-yellow bird with black wings and tail that ranges from England to Siberia and winters in Africa. The related mango bird inhabits India, and allied species are found in Africa and Australia. The black-naped oriole, Oriolus chinensis, is a black and yellow bird found from India to the Philippines. The New World orioles are considerably smaller than the Old World birds. In the male Baltimore oriole of E North America the head, throat, shoulders, wings, and tail are black and the rest of the plumage is orange. Its nest, a deep, woven bag, is suspended from the tip of a high branch. New World orioles also feed chiefly on insects and fruit. In the orchard oriole, chestnut replaces the brilliant orange of the Baltimore oriole. Bullock's oriole, of W North America, has orange markings on the head. New World orioles lay four to six eggs per clutch and both sexes incubate the eggs. Orioles are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Aves, order Passeriformes, families Icteridae (New World orioles) and Oriolidae (Old World orioles).
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.