Oriolus oriolus (Linnaeus, 1758)
Family: Passeriformes > Oriolidae
Formerly a rare but regular breeder, the Golden Oriole is now a scarce visitor, most commonly reported in the spring, from April to the middle of June.
The last regular breeding took place in East Anglia, and the bird's disappearance has been linked to declining populations elsewhere.
Golden Oriole identification is often straightforward.
Listen to example recordings of the main vocalisations of Golden Oriole, provided by xeno-canto contributors.
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Status and Trends
Population size and trends and patterns of distribution based on BTO surveys and atlases with data collected by BTO volunteers.
This species can be found on the following statutory and conservation listings and schedules.
|Species of European Conservation Concern||Least Concern|
|IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (global)||Least Concern|
|Schedule 1 license required (to disturb)||Yes|
|Birds Directive Annex 1||No|
|Listed on the Annexes of||WCA(I,IV), Bern(III)|
The Golden Oriole was a scarce but regular breeding species in poplar plantations in East Anglia during the 1980s and 1990s but breeding numbers at the former core population at Lakenheath collapsed from 27 pairs in 1987 to four pairs in 2005 (Mason & Allsop 2009). This decline continued subsequently and the species is now effectively extinct as a breeding species in the UK. Occasional singing males continue to be reported to the Rare Breeding Birds Panel in most years, but the last confirmed breeding was in 2009 (Eaton et al. 2021).
Golden Orioles have declined significantly and no longer breed regularly. During 2008–11 breeding was confirmed in two 10-km squares in the Suffolk fens and possible breeding in 27 squares. Many records away from the Fens probably refer to migrants; non-breeding birds were reported in a further 93 10-km squares in Britain and five in Ireland.
Occupied 10-km squares in UK
European Distribution Map
The change map highlights losses in the Fens and at other historical breeding sites.
|% change in range in breeding season (1968–72 to 2008–11)||+180%|
Golden Oriole is a former regular breeder and now mostly a spring overshoot migrant.
Information about movement and migration based on online bird portals (e.g. BirdTrack), Ringing schemes and tracking studies.
An overview of year-round movements for the whole of Europe can be seen on the EuroBirdPortal viewer.
Lifecycle and body size information about Golden Oriole, including statistics on nesting, eggs and lifespan based on BTO ringing and nest recording data.
View number ringed each year in the Online Ringing Report
|Maximum Age from Ringing||10 years 1 months 1 days (set in 1996)|
|Ring size||C (pulli D)|
|Field Codes||2-letter: OL | 5-letter code: GOLOR | Euring: 15080|
For information in another language (where available) click on a linked name
Interpretation and scientific publications about Golden Oriole from BTO scientists.
Causes of change
The drivers of the UK declines are unclear but the British population is linked to population trends in the Low Countries which are declining and this may have made the isolated UK population more vulnerable by reducing immigration. The declines in the Netherlands have been linked to habitat degradation but this is considered unlikely to have driven the UK extinction as sufficient suitable habitat was still available (Mason & Allsop 2009).
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