The Oriole, a very beautiful yellow and black bird


The Oriole is a migratory bird. Happy is the one who can see it because this bird is very fierce. On the other hand, it is more frequent to appreciate its melodious song which betrays its presence. Let’s see who exactly is this beautiful bird whose male sports this magnificent yellow and black livery and what is the lifestyle of this highly protected passerine on our territory.

European Oriole: main characteristics

The Oriole of Europe (Oriolus oriolus), also called Yellow oriole, is a sparrow belonging to the family of Oriolidae which has about thirty species, and of which it is, in Europe, the only representative. It is found over much of the European continent. It is most rarely found in the British Isles, and it is totally absent in Lithuania, Estonia, Latvia and the Scandinavian countries.

With its maximum length of 25 cm, it is the same size as the blackbird. Its weight, in adulthood is 78 g for the male is 65 g for the female.

This Oriole has a plumage very particular, closer to that of a exotic bird than a European bird, and which makes it easy to identify it among our other passerines. A line connecting the eyes to the corners of the beak as well as its wings and tail with a deep black create a stark contrast to the bright yellow of its livery. Its scientific name, Oriolus, is also an evocation of this golden yellow that only the male is adorned with.

The female has greyish-brown wings and tail, her slightly yellowish plumage on the belly tends to be olive green on the back. However, in older females the yellowing intensifies.

Thelife expectancy Loriot d’Europe is 8 years old.

European Oriole: migration and reproduction

Between August and September, this bird leaves Europe to spend the winter in East Africa. Males and females travel in distinct groups. The Golden Oriole mainly takes advantage of the nocturnal periods to perform its long migratory flights. His return in our latitudes takes place, depending on the geographical areas, between mid-April and the end of May, when the leaves of the trees display all their splendor, leaving this great savage the leisure to hide.

The couplings take place upon return from African lands. Encouraged by the song of the male who is content to follow her, the female takes care of the nest building. Installed securely in the fork of the branches of a well-leafy tree, at a height of between 5 and 10 meters for optimal protection, it is deep and composed of an interweaving of flexible twigs, long grasses and stubble.

It is in this cozy cradle that the female deposits at most 4 eggs. Brooding lasts two weeks, during which time the male rarely replaces her for brooding. On the other hand, he watches over the nest with great attention in order to protect it from possible attacks by jays, raptors, crows but also squirrels. When the juveniles have reached the age of 14 days, they are able to stand on their own two feet. However, they extend their family life for a good two weeks. They are completely independent when the time comes for migration.

Protection of the Oriole in France

Thanks to the ministerial decree dated April 17, 1981, the Oriole d’Europe is totally protected in France. Thus, it is forbidden to capture, sell or buy this bird, to transport it and even to keep or naturalize it. The law concerns both living and dead birds. No one has the right either to disturb these individuals in any way whatsoever, to move or destroy their nests, or to take their eggs. As for the alteration and degradation of the natural environment of the Oriole, they are totally prohibited.

Photo credit: Paco Gómez

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