Indian golden oriole

The Indian golden oriole (Oriolus kundoo) is a species of oriole found in the Indian subcontinent and Central Asia. The species was formerly considered to be a subspecies of the Eurasian golden oriole, but is now considered a full species. Adults can be told apart from the Eurasian golden oriole by the black of the eye stripe extending behind the eye.

Indian golden oriole
IndianGoldenOriole M.jpg
IndianGoldenOriole F.jpg
Adult male (above), female (below)
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Class: Aves
Order: Passeriformes
Family: Oriolidae
Genus: Oriolus
O. kundoo
Binomial name
Oriolus kundoo
Sykes, 1832
Oriolus kundoo distribution map.png
Approximate distribution
  • Oriolus oriolus kundoo

Taxonomy and systematicsEdit

The Indian golden oriole was described by the English naturalist William Henry Sykes in 1832 and given the binomial name Oriolus kundoo.[2] Although initially described as a separate species, the Indian golden oriole was usually treated as a subspecies of the Eurasian golden oriole.[3] In 2005, the ornithologists Pamela Rasmussen and John Anderton in their Birds of South Asia decided to treat the two varieties as separate species based on the differences in morphology, plumage, calls and the fact that the two varieties do not intergrade.[4] Support for this split was provided by a molecular phylogenetic study published in 2010,[5] and most ornithologists now treat the Indian golden oriole as a separate species.[6] The race baltistanicus was judged by Charles Vaurie to be indistinguishable from the nominate subspecies and the Indian golden oriole is considered to be monotypic.[7][8]


Male in nest (Hyderabad, India)

The Indian golden oriole is very similar to the Eurasian golden oriole but has more yellow in the tail and has a paler shade of red in the iris and bill. The male has the black eye stripe extending behind the eye, a large carpal patch on the wing and wide yellow tips to the secondaries and tertiaries. The streaks on the underside of females is more sharp than in the females of the Eurasian golden oriole.[4][5][9] The European species is larger with a wing length of 149–162 mm in adult males compared to 136–144 mm in O. kundoo. The wing formula is also different with primary 2 longer than 5 in O. oriolus while primary 5 is longer than 2 in O. kundoo.

Distribution and habitatEdit

This oriole breeds from Baluchistan and Afghanistan along the Himalayas to Nepal. Some populations breed in the peninsular region but are very local. The northern populations winter in southern India, with some birds wintering in Sri Lanka. The populations that occur in the Maldives and the Andaman Islands have not been carefully examined.[4]

The Indian golden oriole inhabits a range of habitats including open deciduous forests, semi-evergreen forests, woodland, forest edge, mangroves, open country with scattered trees, parks, gardens orchards and plantations.[10]

Male in Madhya Pradesh, India

Behaviour and ecologyEdit

Their flight is dipping but strong and has been recorded to reach about 40 km/h. They sometimes bathe by repeatedly flying into a small pool of water. An individual ringed in Gujarat was recovered in Tajikistan more than nine years later.[11][12]


The Indian golden oriole is a partial migrant. It breeds in central Asia and the Indian subcontinent. The Indian populations are largely resident while the other populations are migratory.[10] The breeding season is April to August, the nest being a small cup placed in a fork near the end of a branch. Nests are often built in the vicinity of the nest of a black drongo.[4] Two or three white eggs with reddish, brown and black speckling form the typical clutch. Both parents take part in nest and brood care, defending the nest against intruding birds such as shikras and crows.[11]

Food and feedingEdit

Orioles feed on fruits, nectar and insects.[4] They are capable of dispersing the seeds of many berry-bearing plants including the invasive Lantana camara.[13] An oriole has been recorded preying on southern flying lizards.[14]


A protozoal blood parasite, Haemoproteus orioli, described from this species has been suggested to occur in many oriole species[15] but may represent different lineages.[16]


  1. ^ BirdLife International (2016). "Oriolus kundoo". IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN. 2016: e.T103692955A104069018. doi:10.2305/IUCN.UK.2016-3.RLTS.T103692955A104069018.en.
  2. ^ Sykes, William Henry (1832). "60. Oriolus kundoo". Proceedings of the Committee of Science and Correspondence of the Zoological Society of London (2): 87.
  3. ^ Mayr, Ernst; Greenway, James C. Jr, eds. (1962). Check-list of birds of the world. Volume 15. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Museum of Comparative Zoology. p. 127.
  4. ^ a b c d e Rasmussen, Pamela C.; Anderton, John C. (2005). Birds of South Asia. The Ripley Guide. Volume 2. Washington D.C. and Barcelona: Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History and Lynx Edicions. p. 586. ISBN 978-84-87334-66-5.
  5. ^ a b Jønsson, K.A.; Bowie, R.C.K.; Moyle, R.G.; Irestedt, M.; Christidis, L.; Norman, J.A.; Fjeldså, J. (2010). "Phylogeny and biogeography of Oriolidae (Aves: Passeriformes)". Ecography. 33 (2): 232–241. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0587.2010.06167.x.
  6. ^ Lepage, Denis. "Indian Golden-Oriole Oriolus kundoo Sykes, 1832". Avibase. Retrieved 20 December 2017.
  7. ^ Vaurie, Charles (1958). "Systematic notes on Palearctic birds. No. 32, Oriolidae, Dicruridae, Bombycillidae, Pycnonotidae, Nectariniidae, and Zosteropidae". American Museum Novitates. 1869: 1–28. hdl:2246/3645.
  8. ^ Gill, Frank; Donsker, David, eds. (2017). "Orioles, drongos & fantails". World Bird List Version 7.3. International Ornithologists' Union. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  9. ^ Kollibay, Paul (1915). "Einige Bemerkungen über Oriolus oriolus kundoo Sykes". Journal of Ornithology (in German). 64 (2): 241–243. doi:10.1007/BF02250522.
  10. ^ a b Walther, B.; Jones, P. (2008). "Family Oriolidae (Orioles and Figbirds)". In Josep, del Hoyo; Andrew, Elliott; David, Christie (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World. Volume 13, Penduline-tits to Shrikes. Barcelona: Lynx Edicions. pp. 692–723. ISBN 978-84-96553-45-3.
  11. ^ a b Ali, S.; Ripley, S.D. (1987). Handbook of the Birds of India and Pakistan. Volume 5 (2nd ed.). New Delhi: Oxford University Press. pp. 102–104.
  12. ^ Ambedkar, V.C. (1986). "Recovery of an Indian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus kundoo) in the U.S.S.R." Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 83 (Supp): 211–212.
  13. ^ Ali, Salim (1936). "Economic ornithology in India" (PDF). Current Science. 4: 472–478.
  14. ^ Balachandran, S (1998). "Golden oriole Oriolus oriolus preying on flying lizard Draco dussumieri Dum. & Bibr". Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society. 95 (1): 115.
  15. ^ Peirce, M.A. (1984). "Haematozoa of Zambian birds VII. Redescription of Haemoproteus orioli from Oriolus oriolus (Oriolidae)". Journal of Natural History. 18 (5): 785–787. doi:10.1080/00222938400770651.
  16. ^ Dimitrov, Dimitar; Zehtindjiev, Pavel; Bensch, Staffan (2010). "Genetic diversity of avian blood parasites in SE Europe: Cytochrome b lineages of the genera Plasmodium and Haemoproteus (Haemosporida) from Bulgaria". Acta Parasitologica. 55 (3): 201–209. doi:10.2478/s11686-010-0029-z.

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