Raffles Museum of Biodiversity Research

Oriolus chinensis Linnaeus, 1766

Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum/Division:Chordata
Class:Aves
Order:Passeriformes
Family:Oriolidae
Genus:Oriolus
Species:O. chinensis
Common Names:Black-naped Oriole
Status:Common Resident and rare winter visitor

Description

The Black-naped Oriole is a distinctive black-and-yellow bird with a pinkish bill. This species was established in Singapore in the 1920s, and were presumably natural occurrences of range expansion, but the local population was possibly augmented with escape birds from the pet bird trade.

Two subspecies occur in Singapore:

The migrant population consists of the subspecies diffusus, which differs from the resident subspecies maculatus in having much more yellow on the inner secondaries.

Read more about the Passeriformes order.
Read more about the Oriolidae family.

Localities

Found throughout Singapore and its offshore islands.

General Biology

The resident population inhabits gardens, parks, urban areas, forests and mangroves, while the migrant population frequents mangrove, canopy of forest and partly cleared land.

This species makes a range of very loud, clear whistles. During courtship they indulge in highspeed aerial chases, with the males all chasing after the female. It has been known to raid the nests of other birds, taking their eggs and chicks. A Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus) was documented feeding on a Black-naped Oriole.

A total of 16 different calls have been documented, one of which is the coarse call. Subsequently, this number has inceresed to 50 different calls/songs.

As with most birds, its neck is very flexable - a video clip of the bird turning its head 180 degrees can be viewed HERE.

Diet

Black-naped Oriole feeds on fruit like Madras Thorn (Pithecellobium dulce), Neem (Azadirachta indica), Noni (Morinda citrifolia), Sea Apple (Syzygium grande), Benjamin Fig (Ficus benjamina), Mango (Mangifera indica), Banana (Musa cultivar), Dragon’s Tail (Raphidophora korthalsii) as well as the "fruit" of the gymnosperm Gnetum gnemon. It has also been reported to takes nectar from the flowers of Coral Tree (Erythrina variegata) and Bottlebrush (Callistemon sp.). The adults feed their chicks with fruits of Salam (Syzygium polyanthum), jambu air (Syzygium aqueum) and Mango (Mangifera indica), after which they indulge in house cleaning by eating the pieces dropped by the chicks in the nest. Animal food includes insects like mantids, grasshoppers, alate termitescicadas, grasshoppercaterpillars and pupae. It has even been seen taking a bird's egg.

Life Cycle

This resident bird builds a nest in the canopy, slung like a hammock under a branch. The use of spider silk in the construction of the nest is well reported. The nest is composed of bark, grass, roots and small twigs and lined with softer materials. Two eggs are laid. The chicks may wander off the nest before they are ready for fledging.

References

Wang, L. K. 2011. Mynas. Pp. 399–401. In: Ng, P. K. L., R. T. Corlett & H. T. W. Tan (editors). Singapore Biodiversity. An Encyclopedia of the Natural Environment and Sustainable Development. Editions Didier Millet, Singapore. 552 pp.

Wang, L.K. & Hails, C.J. 2007. An annotated checklist of birds of Singapore. Raffles Bulletin of Zoology, Supplement 15: 1–179, Singapore.

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