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The Black-naped Oriole (scientific name: Oriolus chinensis) has a yellow-and-black plumage that has often led to it being mistakenly called the Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus), another species found in India and China. It was featured on the S$500 notes of the "Bird Series" currency notes issued by the Monetary Authority of Singapore between 1976 and 1984. It was also featured on 50-cent stamps in a 1991 postage stamp series on garden birds, as well as S$1 stamps in a 2002 series on The William Farquhar Collection of Natural History Drawings.
The Black-naped Oriole is clearly distinguished by its bright yellow mantle, its black and yellow wing and tail, and the black stripe extending across its eyes from the base of the bill to the back of the head. The yellow on the adult male is brighter, with females having a yellowish-green tinge on their mantle. Juveniles do not have the black nape and have a streaked colouration on the breast. The adults range in size from 23cm to 27cm. The call is a loud, melodious whistle that sounds like "too-whee-you" but it also makes a harsh cat-like noise.
The breeding season seems to last the first half of the year, from December to June. The oval-shaped nest is constructed with dried vegetation such as leaves, grass, straw and roots and is tightly bound to its supports. Nests are usually located on the forks of branches in medium to tall trees, 6-10 metres from the ground. Two bluish-white eggs are laid.
It eats mainly fruits and insects. Pairs are often spotted on fruiting fig, mango and papaya trees. It also feeds on the fruits of the MacArthur's Palm, which is a favourite of mynas and starlings. This bird is known to be aggressive and frequently raids the nests of other birds such as Yellow-vented Bulbuls and Spotted Doves, feeding on the eggs and nestlings.
Distribution and Habitat
Black-naped Orioles range from the Himalayas, east through China and south through the Malay Peninsula, up to the Lesser Sunda Islands. There have been 18-20 subspecies described. Records show that a large breeding population has existed in Singapore since the early 1920s. It is the only oriole species found in Singapore, but it is one of the most common bird species here and consistently makes the top ten list in the annual Singapore Bird Census. It can be seen in green spaces such as parks and gardens and at the edge of forests.
Malay: Burong Kunyet Besar
Ali, S. (1996). The book of Indian birds. Bombay: Bombay Natural History Society.
(Call no.: R 598.2954 ALI)
Chasen, E. N. (1935). A hand-list of Malaysian birds. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum Singapore, Straits Settlements, 11, vii-389.
(Call no.: RCLOS 571.09595 RMSB)
Dickinson, E. C. (2000). Systematic notes on Asian birds. 7. Black-naped oriole Oriolus chinensis Linnaeus, 1766: some old nomenclatural issues explained. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 331, 131-139.
(Not in NLB holdings)
Gan, J. W. M., & Lau, A. (c2005). Birds seen at the Istana. Singapore: Suntree Media.
(Call no.: RSING 598.095957 BIR)
Glenister, A. G. (1971). The birds of the Malay Peninsula, Singapore and Penang. Kuala Lumpur: Oxford University Press.
(Call no.: RSING 598.29595 GLE)
Herklots, G. A. C. (1936). The birds of Hong Kong, Part XXIII: The Black-naped Oriole. The Hong Kong Naturalist, 7(2), 99-101.
(Call no.: R 578.095125 HKN)
King, B. F. (1975). Birds of South-east Asia: Covering Burma, Malaya, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Hong Kong. London: Collins.
(Call no.: RSEA 598.2989 KIN)
Lim, K. S. (1999). Official birds checklist of the Republic of Singapore. Retrieved January 19, 2006, from http://www.nss.org.sg/wildbirdsingapore/
Madoc, G. C. . An introduction to Malayan birds. [Kuala Lumpur: Malayan Nature].
(Call no.: RCLOS 598.29595 MAD -[GBH])
Spittle, R. J. (1950). Nesting habits of some Singapore birds. Bulletin of the Raffles Museum Singapore, Straits Settlements, 21, 184-204.
(Call no.: RCLOS 571.09595 RMSB)
Tweedie, M. W. F. . Common birds of the Malay Peninsula. Kuala Lumpur: Longman Malaysia.
(Call no.: RSEA 598.29595 TWE)
The information in this article is valid as at 2006 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.