Ian’s Bird of the Week – Olive-backed Oriole

Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) by Ian

Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) by Ian

Newsletter 2-19-2010

I’ve just revised the galleries for the Australian Orioles, so here is the Olive-backed Oriole. It’s less colourful than its Australian relatives, the Green/Yellow Oriole and the Australasian Figbird, but it’s an attractive bird all the same and one that I always enjoy seeing. The first photo shows a young adult. It has the characteristic green and grey plumage, red eye and pink bill of the adult, but the wing feathers still have buff, rather than white, edges. The contrasting white background and black streaks of the breast look smart, and the black streaks look as if they’ve been skillfully painted on by an oriental potter.

Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) Y by Ian

Olive-backed Oriole (Oriolus sagittatus) Y by Ian

The second photo shows a juvenile bird with brownish back and wings and dark eyes and bill. It’s just beginning to acquire adult plumage with a greenish tinge developing on the head.

The Olive-backed Oriole is quite widespread in northern, eastern and south-eastern Australia occurring from Broome in the west through the top half of the Northern Territory and through almost all of Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria. It’s resident in the north but a breeding migrant in the south east, returning to northern Australia in the winter. It is well camouflaged and rather unobtrusive when feeding on fruit in foliage, but it has a loud, musical call, often rendered as ‘orrie, orrie-ole’, that is a characteristic sound of open woodlands.

Other additions to the website include:

Green/Yellow Oriole

Female Magnificent Riflebird

Brown Falcon

Spotted Bowerbird

Best wishes,


Ian Montgomery, Birdway Pty Ltd,

454 Forestry Road, Bluewater, Qld 4818

Phone: +61-7 4751 3115

Preferred Email: ian@birdway.com.au

Website: http://birdway.com.au

Lee’s Addition:

The Olive-backed Oriole is in the Oriolidae Family of the Passeriformes Order. These are considered the Old World Oriole family, whereas the Icterus Family has the New World Orioles.  The Oriolidae family not only has Orioles, but also Figbirds.

Green Figbird (Sphecotheres viridis) by Ian

Australasian Figbird (Sphecotheres vieilloti) by Ian

“The orioles are a family of Old World passerine birds. The family Oriolidae comprises the figbirds in the genus Sphecotheres, and the Old World orioles in the genus Oriolus.[1] Several other genera have been proposed to split up the genus Oriolus. For example, the African black-headed species are sometimes placed in the genus Baruffius. The family is not related to the New World orioles, which are icterids, family Icteridae. The family is distributed across Africa, Europe, Asia down into Australia. The few temperate nesting species are migratory, and some tropical species also show seasonal movements.

The orioles and figbirds are medium sized passerines, around 20–30 cm in length, with the females only slightly smaller than the males.[1] The beak is slightly curved and hooked, and, except in the figbirds, as long again as the head. The plumage of most species is bright and showy, although the females often have duller plumage than the males do. The plumage of many Australasian orioles mimics that of friarbirds (a genus of large honeyeaters), probably to reduce aggression against the smaller orioles.[2]

Green Oriole (Oriolus flavocinctus)  by Ian

Green Oriole (Oriolus flavocinctus) by Ian

Orioles are arboreal and tend to feed in the canopy.[1] Many species are able to survive in open forests and woodlands, although a few are restricted to closed forest. They are opportunistic omnivores, with the main components of their diet being fruit, berries, and arthropods.

Orioles are monogamous, breeding in territorial pairs (although the Australasian Figbird, and possibly also the other figbirds, breed in loose colonies).[1] Nesting sites may be chosen near aggressive species such as drongos, shrikes or friarbirds, which confer a degree of protection. The nest is a deep woven cup suspended like a hammock from a branch. They usually lay two or three eggs, but as many as six have been recorded.” (From Wikipedia)

The trees of the LORD are watered abundantly, the cedars of Lebanon that he planted. In them the birds build their nests; the stork has her home in the fir trees. (Psalms 104:16-17 ESV)

3 thoughts on “Ian’s Bird of the Week – Olive-backed Oriole

  1. Hi. Am a WIRES member in Albury 2640. Have a baby near fledgling Olive backed Oriele and just want to know the best mix of diet. Still gaping but perching. Has got most of its feathers. Am feeding it meat dipped in water then insectivore but also a slurry of neocare, insectivore and baby fruit puree. Any better ideas? No one in my branch has had to raise one.
    Thankyou in advance


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