This is a small homogeneous Old World family of 30 species, most of which are found in sub-Saharan Africa and tropical Asia, save one species in Eurasia. They are medium-sized, slender, and mostly colourful birds whose main characteristic is a slightly decurved strong bill of about the same length as the head, often red or orange in coloration and with a tiny hook at the tip. In addition most orioles are immediately recognizable by their distinctive song, which is a far-carrying, mellifluous and rather flute-like whistle. Indeed the name “oriole” is thought to be an onomatopoeic rendition of this song. Like the starlings, they are supreme omnivores, eating berries and other fruits, and drinking nectar when available, as well as feeding on invertebrates of all types, and occasionally vertebrates, such as birds’ eggs and chicks. However they are exclusively arboreal, mostly hunting high in trees. Many, but not all, species are sexually dimorphic, the males being brighter than their mates. Nests are usually woven bowls, suspended hammock-like in a horizontal fork of a branch high in a tree.

Three species occur in Java, of which only one has crossed Wallace’s Line, and only one species that occurs in Baluran .


Swift and undulating, with rather slow, powerful wing beats, reminiscent of a woodpecker; typically sweeping upwards with half-opened wings when alighting

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