Olive Backed Oriole

Quick Facts

Length: 27 cm
Height: -
Weight: 96 grams
Colour: -
Habitat: Forests, woodlands and rainforests as well are parks and golf courses
Food: Insects and fruit in the tree canopy
Predators: -
Status: Rare in SA. Not Present in TAS. Secure in all other states and territories of Australia

The Olive-backed Oriole is part of a worldwide family, of which Australia has two other members (the Yellow Oriole and the Figbird). Males and females have an olive-green head and back, grey wings and tail, and cream underparts, streaked with brown. They both have a bright red eye and reddish beak. Females can be distinguished from males by a paler bill, duller-green back, and an extension of the streaked underparts up to the chin.

Olive-backed Orioles have a reddish bill, which easily distinguishes the species from the similar Figbird Sphecotheres viridis, which has a blackish bill. It also lacks the Figbird's bare eye skin and has red rather than dark eyes. The Yellow Oriole is generally more yellow overall.

The Olive-backed Oriole occurs across coastal regions of northern and eastern Australia from the Kimberley region in Western Australia, right around the east coast to Adelaide in South Australia.

The Olive-backed Oriole lives in forests, woodlands and rainforests, as well as well-treed urban areas, particularly parks and golf courses.

Sedentary in the north of its range, but appears to be a summer migrant to the more southern part of its range. Small groups undertake nomadic movements, following fruiting trees during the autumn and winter.

Olive-backed Orioles are less gregarious than Figbirds, with which they are often seen foraging. Although they are sometimes seen in small groups, particularly in autumn and winter, they more often occur alone or in pairs, feeding on insects and fruit in canopy trees.

The female Olive-backed Oriole builds a cup-shaped nest which is attached by its rim to a horizontal fork on the outer-edge of the foliage of a tree or tall shrub. Nests are usually around 10 m above the ground, and built of strips of bark and grass, bound with spider web. The male does not build the nest, or incubate the eggs, but he feeds the young after the eggs hatch.

Olive-backed Orioles are excellent mimics of other birds, and are also 'ventriloquists', meaning they can 'throw' their voices to sound like they are calling from somewhere else.

Olive-backed Orioles are commonly encountered in urban parks and golf-courses, particularly those that have fruit-bearing trees. As fruit form a major part of the diet of this species, Olive-backed Orioles are attracted to parks and gardens that have trees that produce abundant berries.

Author: Rosalyn Plunkett
Last Updated: Thursday 18th July, 2013
BirdLife Australia - www.birdlife.org.au


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