I was thrilled to see a bright flash of yellow cross the garden when we first arrived here over three decades ago: my first sighting of a Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus) and it was in our garden! This surely was a good omen for our move … we have been very happy here and so it must have been. Happily, these birds count among the birds seen in our garden throughout the year.

Both males and females sport the same striking golden-yellow colour with a black head. Their long, strong, slightly hooked bills are coral-pink and are ideally suited to their omnivorous diet of fruit, caterpillars, locusts and beetles.

Despite their bright colouring, it is often easier to hear the musical liquid-sounding call of these birds than to see them, for they tend to be found among the foliage of high trees and thick bush.

We generally see them swooping across the open area of the garden with an undulating fast-and-direct flight pattern, although they do visit the nectar feeder and the feeding table whenever I put out cut apples.

Black-headed Orioles are breeding residents in South Africa.

31 thoughts on “BLACK-HEADED ORIOLE

  1. Such a handsome one! Coincidentally, May is the only time we see Baltimore Orioles which migrate through, but seldom stay. One has been coming to our suet feeder and a friend says she has had several eating oranges she puts out. Years ago, I remember seeing their woven nests in elm trees, but alas, Dutch elm disease has ended their majestic reign.


    • I thought of your Baltimore Orioles when I composed this post. It is interesting that they visit your suet feeder, although I am not surprised at them eating oranges – ours eat the apples I put out. It is so sad to hear of the devastating effects of the Dutch Elm disease!.


      • There are too many threats to our native plants these days. Invasive plants and alien insects and diseases are wreaking havoc in ecosystems the world over. Rather worrisome.


  2. It is amazing how such colorful birds can hide in plain sight. Lucky you for having such a beauty in your garden. We get Baltimore Orioles (Icterus galbula) in our garden during migration. They nest around here but we don’t have trees to their liking in our garden.


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