Oriolidae – Old World Orioles

Orioles of the warmer parts of the Old World

A vibrant and melodious group of songbirds that primarily inhabit the Old World tropics, stretching from Africa through India to Australia. The family includes the true orioles, figbirds, and, as recent genetic studies have suggested, the Pitohuis, which were traditionally not included in this family.

Oriolids are medium-sized birds known for their striking plumage, often featuring a combination of bright yellow, black, and green colors. This hooded appearance, where the head, throat, or chest are a different color from the body, is characteristic of the true orioles. They also have robust, slightly curved beaks adapted for a varied diet, which can include fruit, nectar, and insects.

The arboreal lifestyle of oriolids means they are well adapted to life in the trees. They inhabit diverse wooded habitats, from dense rainforests and lush woodlands to open savannas and even urban parks, showcasing their adaptability. Some oriolids, such as figbirds, are primarily frugivorous, feeding mostly on a fruit and berries diet, making them important seed dispersers within their ecosystems.

Regarding feeding habits, oriolids are considered opportunistic, meaning they will take advantage of a wide variety of available food sources. They are known to consume nectar and arthropods; some will even prey on small vertebrates when the opportunity arises.

During the breeding season, oriolids are known for being territorial and monogamous. They are also attentive parents, with both males and females sharing responsibilities such as nest building, incubating eggs, and feeding the young. Their nests are often intricately woven and cup-shaped, suspended from tree branches, providing their offspring a safe and secure environment.

Despite their adaptability and widespread distribution, many oriolids face significant conservation challenges. Approximately 19% of oriolid species are confronted with serious threats to their survival. The main factors contributing to these threats are habitat loss and fragmentation due to agricultural expansion, logging, and urban development.