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Black-naped oriole

Black-naped oriole
Adult female O. c. diffusus (Hyderabad, India)
Scientific classification Edit this classification
Domain: Eukaryota
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Oriolidae
Genus: Oriolus
O. chinensis
Binomial name
Oriolus chinensis
Linnaeus, 1766

The black-naped oriole (Oriolus chinensis) is a passerine bird in the oriole family that is found in many parts of Asia. There are several distinctive populations within the wide distribution range of this species and in the past the slender-billed oriole (Oriolus tenuirostris) was included as a subspecies. Unlike the Indian golden oriole which only has a short and narrow eye-stripe, the black-naped oriole has the stripe broadening and joining at the back of the neck. Males and females are very similar although the wing lining of the female is more greenish. The bill is pink and is stouter than in the golden oriole.

Taxonomy and systematics

In 1760 the French zoologist Mathurin Jacques Brisson included a description of the black-naped oriole in his Ornithologie based on a specimen that he mistakenly believed had been collected in the former French colony of Cochinchina in what is now southern Vietnam. He used the French name Le loriot de la Cochinchine and the Latin Oriolus Cochinsinensis.[2] Although Brisson coined Latin names, these do not conform to the binomial system and are not recognised by the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature.[3] When in 1766 the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus updated his Systema Naturae for the twelfth edition, he added 240 species that had been previously described by Brisson.[3] One of these was the black-naped oriole. Linnaeus included a brief description, coined the current binomial name Oriolus chinensis ("Chinese oriole") and cited Brisson's work.[4] The type location was subsequently corrected to Manila in the Philippines.[5]

The evolutionary history of this group of orioles is complex and there may be more cryptic species within the group.[6] The subspecies are very closely related and the group forms a clade in which the Eurasian oriole and Indian golden oriole are also nested.[7][8]


Twenty subspecies are recognized:[9]

Calls of O. c. diffusus in winter range


Male O. c. maculatus (Selangor, Malaysia)
O. c. maculatus (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia)

The black-naped oriole is medium-sized and overall golden with a strong pinkish bill and a broad black mask and nape. The adult male has the central tail feathers tipped yellow and the lateral ones are more broadly yellow. The female has the mantle colour more greenish or olive. The juvenile has a streaked underside. The nestling has dull greenish with brown streaks. The head and nape are more yellowish and the undertail coverts are yellow. Several variations exist in the populations that have been separated as subspecies.[10]

The subspecies in the Andamans, O. c. andamanensis has all black wings while O. c. macrourus of the Nicobars has a very broad nape band so that only the top of the head is yellow. The wings are all black with a yellow primary covert patch. The calls of the Andaman and the Nicobar subspecies are said to be quite different, the latter having a more modulated call note.[11][12] In the Southeast Asian populations some geographic trends include a reduction of yellow on the forehead and a decreased brightness in the yellow plumage from north to south. Females from southern populations are more greenish on the back and tail and there are no yellow spots on the tips of the secondaries as in northern populations.[13]

The usual call is a nasal niee or myaa and the song (diffusus) is a fluty iwee wee wee-leeow. They have a dipping flight.[14]

Distribution and habitat

Juvenile bird in Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Subspecies diffusus breeds in eastern Siberia, Ussuriland, northeastern China, Korea, Japan and northern Vietnam and is widespread across India during winter, mainly in the northeastern parts and in the peninsular region and also found in Bangladesh.[1] The population in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are resident. In winter, populations breeding in eastern Asia spend the winter in the tropical areas of Southeast Asia such as Thailand and Myanmar.[11][15] Subspecies diffusus is an uncommon migrant in many parts of South India and very rare migrant to Sri Lanka and are most regularly seen in the Western Ghats.[6] In Singapore they are believed to have established as breeders only in the 1920s and are today common even within gardens in the city. In the 1880s they were considered rare.[16] At the present time, orioles are fairly common in Singapore.

The black-naped oriole is found in forests, gardens and plantations. It feeds on berries and insects in the canopy.

Behaviour and ecology

Males differ geographically in extent of black and yellow on head, wing and tail
O. c. broderipii illustration (1850)

Black-naped orioles have been recorded to feed on a range of berries including Trema orientalis, Ficus and others apart from insects. It has been suggested that they may have aided in the dispersal of Ficus species into the island of Krakatoa where they were also among the early pioneer species.[17] In India it has been noted to take nectar from large flowers such as those of Salmalia and Erythrina.[11] They can sometimes be nest predators on smaller birds.[18] The breeding season is April to June (January–March in the Nicobars[19]) and the nest is a deep cup in a fork of a tree.[6] The eggs, two to three, are salmon pink with reddish spots and darker blotches[10][20] The nests are often built in the vicinity of the nest of a black drongo. Two or three nests may be built by the female and one is finally chosen for laying eggs.[19] Males may sometimes sit beside the unused nests. Incubation is by the female alone and the eggs hatch after 14 to 16 days and the chicks fledge after another two weeks. Females stay closer to the nest, taking part in nest sanitation by removal of fecal sacs, driving away predators and feeding the young. The males take a more active role in feeding and guarding. Eurasian tree sparrows and black bulbuls may sometimes use abandoned nests. Nest predators include crows, treepies and hawks.[21] In many parts of Southeast Asia, they are trapped and sold in the bird trade.[22]


  1. ^ a b BirdLife International (2018). "Oriolus chinensis". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. 2018: e.T22706394A130376308. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2018-2.RLTS.T22706394A130376308.en. Retrieved 19 November 2021.
  2. ^ Brisson, Mathurin Jacques (1760). Ornithologie, ou, Méthode contenant la division des oiseaux en ordres, sections, genres, especes & leurs variétés (in French and Latin). Vol. 2. Paris: Jean-Baptiste Bauche. pp. 326–328, Plate 33 fig 1. The two stars (**) at the start of the section indicates that Brisson based his description on the examination of a specimen.
  3. ^ a b Allen, J.A. (1910). "Collation of Brisson's genera of birds with those of Linnaeus". Bulletin of the American Museum of Natural History. 28: 317–335. hdl:2246/678.
  4. ^ Linnaeus, Carl (1766). Systema naturae : per regna tria natura, secundum classes, ordines, genera, species, cum characteribus, differentiis, synonymis, locis (in Latin). Vol. 1, Part 1 (12th ed.). Holmiae (Stockholm): Laurentii Salvii. p. 160.
  5. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Greenway, James C. Jr, eds. (1962). Check-list of birds of the world. Vol. 15. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 129.
  6. ^ a b c Rasmussen, P.C. & Anderton, J.C. (2005). Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Smithsonian Institution and Lynx Edicions. pp. 586–587.
  7. ^ Knud A. Jønsson; Rauri C. K. Bowie; Robert G. Moyle; Martin Irestedt; Les Christidis; Janette; A. Norman; Jon Fjeldsa (2010). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Oriolidae (Aves: Passeriformes)" (PDF). Ecography. 33: 232–241. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06167.x.
  8. ^ Dickinson, EC (2000). "Systematic notes on Asian birds. 7. Black-naped Oriole Oriolus chinensis Linnaeus, 1766: some old nomenclatural issues explained". Zoologische Verhandelingen. 331: 131–139.
  9. ^ "IOC World Bird List 7.1". IOC World Bird List Datasets. doi:10.14344/
  10. ^ a b Baker, ECS (1926). Fauna of British India. Birds. Volume 3 (2nd ed.). London: Taylor and Francis. pp. 7–11.
  11. ^ a b c Ali S & SD Ripley (1986). Handbook of the birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 5 (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 104–108.
  12. ^ Butler, AL (1899). "The birds of the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Part 1". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 12 (2): 386–403.
  13. ^ Rand, AL (1951). "Birds of Negros Island". Fieldiana Zoology. 31 (48): 571–596.
  14. ^ Brazil, Mark (2009). Field Guide to the Birds of East Asia. London: Christopher Helm. pp. 300–301. ISBN 978-0-7136-7040-0.
  15. ^ Robinson, H.C. (1927). The Birds of the Malay Peninsula. Volume 1: The Commoner Birds (PDF). London: Witherby. pp. 273–274.
  16. ^ Ward P (1968). "Origin of the avifauna of urban and suburban Singapore". Ibis. 110 (3): 239–255. doi:10.1111/j.1474-919X.1968.tb00036.x.
  17. ^ Ian W. B. Thornton; Stephen G. Compton; Craig N. Wilson (1996). "The role of animals in the colonization of the Krakatau Islands by fig trees (Ficus species)". Journal of Biogeography. 23 (4): 577–592. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2699.1996.tb00019.x.
  18. ^ Wee, Y. C. (2009). "Observations on the behaviour of the Yellow-vented Bulbul (Pycnonotus goiavier (Scopoli) in two instances of failed nesting" (PDF). Nature in Singapore. 2: 347–352. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2009-11-22. Retrieved 2011-01-19.
  19. ^ a b Sivakumar K (2003). "Some observations on the breeding biology of birds on Great Nicobar Island, India" (PDF). Forktail. 19: 130–131. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-08-10. Retrieved 2016-03-09.
  20. ^ Herklots, GAC (1936). "The birds of Hong Kong. Part 23" (PDF). The Hong Kong Naturalist. 7 (2): 99–101.
  21. ^ Li-ching Chu (2007). Study of Breeding Biology and Habitat Use of Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) (PDF). Unpublished Masters Thesis, National Sun Yat-Sen University, Taiwan.
  22. ^ Shepherd, CR & Jeet Sukumaran, Serge A. Wich (2004). Open Season: An analysis of the pet trade in Medan, Sumatra 1997 - 2001 (PDF). TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.
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Black-naped oriole
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