GOLDEN ORIOLE (Oriolus oriolus)

FAMILY: ORIOLIDAE (Old World Orioles)

This stunning, bright yellow and black bird was once a rare but regular breeder in the UK but is now only a very rare Spring visitor from Africa, usually spotted from April to June. They are only reported from a small population in east England. The rarity and irregular visitation of these birds make understanding their population very difficult and at the time of writing, the conservation status in the UK has not been assessed.

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Alert Status:

Not Assessed

Estimated number of UK breeding

Estimated number of UK visitors: 85

Listen to Golden Oriole song:


These stunning birds are unmistakable with their contrasting yellow and black colouration. About the size of a blackbird, the Golden Oriole has a bright yellow body with contrasting black wings and tail and black eye stripe and reddish eyes. Females have similar colouration but are slightly duller and have speckled white and black belly and breast.

Average Length: 24 cm

Average Lifespan: 10 years

Average Wingspan: 44-47 cm

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Golden Oriole diet

Their diet mainly consists of invertebrates and berries. They are unlikely to be seen in UK gardens due to the small population.

Golden Oriole Breeding and nesting information

Breeding begins in May and eggs are laid in May and June. The nest is built by the female and is suspended high up between thin branches. Three to five eggs are laid and incubated mostly by the female, but the male will help, for 14 days. After hatching the chicks are fed by both parents for around 14 days before they leave the nest and rely on their parents for a further couple of weeks.

Threats to Golden Orioles

Population declines in the UK are usually attributed to declines in other areas of the world, but the loss of suitable broadleaf woodlands and poplar plantations in the UK has potentially decreased the breeding range. Golden Orioles are susceptible to extreme weather conditions which can cause large short-term fluctuations, which may mean climate change could drive population declines in the future. In Greece, where Golden Orioles eat a lot of fruit, they are persecuted by some fruit farmers.

How you can help

Petition to protect suitable broadleaf woodlands.

Report sightings of this bird during the spring and summer months.

Be careful not to disturb this bird if trying to catch a glimpse of our small population.  

Fascinating Fact

The word Oriole comes from the Latin word aureoles, which means golden, meaning their full name is the Golden Golden!
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BirdLife International (2023) Species factsheet: Oriolus oriolus. Downloaded from Accessed:31/10/2023.

British Trust for Ornithology (2023) Golden Oriole | BTO - British Trust for Ornithology. Available at: Accessed:31/10/2023  

Dimaki, M., Alivizatos, H., & Kokkini, P. (2020). Ringing studies of the Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus (Aves: Oriolidae) during passage through Antikythira Island, southwestern Greece. Ringing and Migration.  

Hollig, M. and the Rare Birds Breeding Panel (2007). Rare breeding birds in the United Kingdom in 2007. British birds, 103, 2-52.

RSPB (2023) Golden Oriole, RSPB. Available at: Accessed:31/10/2023.  

Stanbury, A., Brown, A., Eaton, M., Aebischer, N., Gillings, S., Hearn, R., Noble, D., Stroud, D., Gregory, R., & Powell, D. (2017). The risk of extinction for birds in Great Britain. British Birds, 110(9), 502-517.  

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