Home News Contact Us Links

  SPECIES GUIDE >> EURASIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE
 
 
     
 
 
    Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus  
 
 
 
A Full Summer-Long Date

With

Eurasian Golden Orioles (Oriolus oriolus)

at

Okhla Bird Park & Wild Life Sanctuary

Anand Arya
30th July 2007

 
 
Gold and things golden are always dear to all but not to me unless it happens to be a bird, particularly the Eurasian Golden Oriole (Oriolus oriolus). Though The Ripley Guide has bifurcated the species in India as Oriolus kundu, I have used here the more commonly used name) and I have also acronymed it as EGOs. These birds are predominantly Golden. The Males have black mask and mainly black wings. The Females have yellowish-green upper-parts and streaking on under-parts. The juveniles have a varying coloration depending on the age and a one year old male may be confused with female at times. We are talking about:
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 4, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 4, 2007
 
     
  When these arrived in late March this year and a little early at the Okhla Bird Park and Wild Life Sanctuary (OBP-WLS) located on the South-eastern boundary of Delhi on one side and the western boundary of Noida adjoining Delhi, I was delighted but had no idea that it would turn to be a passion for the most part of summer. And, I would witness the nest building – not one but three – the chicks coming out of eggs, the parents feeding, defending aggressively and rearing them out of the nest and teaching them to fly, hunt for food and the hatchlings growing into beautiful creatures.

Let me share with you this once in a life time experience with the photographs at various stages – from nest building to incubating to hatching to feeding till the chicks learnt to fly. The only thing I am unable to share is the photographs of the eggs and the hatching since I did not look into the nests - their safety and concern being the prime most consideration. A large number of photographs were taken from a distance (I have the equipment which gives me a focal length of up to 2240 mm which is 44.8 times magnification) and some from well hidden points and/or the hide I got built up for this very specific purpose. I am sure that the birds did not feel disturbed or even noticed my presence.

Let me begin. There were a few sightings in March but these increased in April when the females started arriving (they arrive a fortnight or so later than the males).

The first activity regarding nest building was seen on 9th May, 07. A female Eurasian Golden Oriole (EGO, what an acronym – the gold does it probably) was spotted sitting on a half completed nest. The nest was located at a level of about two meters from the ground level and under the overhang of a neem tree. I learnt later that the positioning of this nest was classic except that it was not to the north-east or east of the tree trunk which is a norm [Reference: Breeding Biology of Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus in the fenland basin of eastern Britain : R Digby P Milwright : Bird Study (1998) 45, 320-330]. This fact was soon confirmed on 13th May 07, when this nest was not completed but cannibalized to make another one just a few meters away. It was to the north-east of the main trunk of the tree and about four meters from the ground but it was not well hidden in a text book style. Also, the nest was located very near that of a Black Drongo as is generally expected and known. Also, nearby were the nests of Yellow-footed Green Pigeons.

Soon the eggs were laid. I am assuming this based on the male and female EGOs sitting on the nest in the incubating position. Here are two images of both the male and female EGOs incubating:

 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; May 5, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; May 14, 2007
 
     
  This incubating took possibly three weeks. The first confirmation that the eggs had hatched came when the birds being fed was noticed on 11th June 2007, and the chick was seen. Here is the hatchling peeping out of the nest possibly on the first day it could after the week long process of growth. And, also a further one week later while it was developing wings to learn to fly:  
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 11, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 19, 2007
 
     
  The incubating period was about three weeks and about two weeks more till the chick is ready to come out of the nest.

Here is the mother coming in to feed the baby EGO and also watching over the baby:

 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 11, 2007

This was an exhilarating experience for me and I was only waiting to learn as to when the baby would reach the edge of the nest and out of it. I did not have to wait long.

On the evening of 20th June, 2007, when I could find time from some parental duties, I made a dash to the location so that I do not miss the coming out of the bird from the nest. I was fully rewarded. Here are the images as the chick, or I should now call it the young, as it readied itself to be out of the nest:
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 19, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007
 
     
  Around the time that the above mentioned chicks were hatching, a retired Army Brigadier, who loves birds and was involved in saving the Black-necked Cranes in Ladakh, mentioned about a nest of White-throated Kingfisher about two kilo-meters south at the OBP-WLS. This led me to discover another nest of the EGOs there. Again the nest was located to the east of the main tree-trunk and near the nests of Black Drongo and Yellow-footed Green Pigeons.

I could see that the eggs were just about hatching since I did not see any incubation activity there but the parent EGOs were coming with feed though not very actively. A few days later, of course, one could see and hear the hatchlings and also the parent EGO’s feeding.

The first impressions were of only two hatchlings but then it was up to a Director-General of Police (Mr. K. Koshy, IPS) to notice what the ordinary folks like me missed – the third chick. As it grew, the views were great. Here are two images from this nest:

 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 30, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 2, 2007
 
     
  The growth was quite fast – in three to four days after they grew wings and were able to flutter, the chicks took a day or two to learn moving on the nearby branches and then off to flying to nearby trees – such that these could be lost at least temporarily as happened with the chicks from the second nest shown above with two and three chicks. The three chicks were seen on 2nd July 2007. It was with great expectations that I walked to the area on morning of 3rd July 2007 hoping to see not one but three chick sitting outside the nest on nearby branches. It was not to be and I was greatly disappointed.

The nest was very quite and I could see and hear the parent EGOs giving out distress calls from the trees nearby. I feared the crows must have had a good meal and the parent EGO could do very little. The two chicks who came out had probably ventured and the parents could not sight these. The next morning was another story though. Could see the parent EGO and two Juveniles very nicely enjoying the good weather. The youngest, who came out of the nest on 3rd giving me a full display of efforts to move out of the nest on to the edge of the nest and on to the branch, where it sat for good part of the morning and was fed there by the mom and dad both, could only be heard and not seen until a few days later when the whole family was seen together first on a tree and then on an earth mound. How I wish I were smart enough to take an image of the whole family together.

It was indeed interesting to see how they look like at various stages of growth - one day out of nest, three days out of the nest and a week or two out of the nest together.

Here are the images at various stages of the growth of the chicks/hatchlings:

 
     
 
The First Day out of nest:
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007

Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 20, 2007
 
The Second Day out of Nest:
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 22, 2007
 
     
  At six days out of Nest:  
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 26, 2007

 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 26, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; June 26, 2007
 
     
  The one on the right almost became a prey to a House Crow who had it in his claws for a moment but just slipped out of its grip and fell to the ground. The parent EGOs were constantly trying to chase the Crow away and it was possibly their pursuit that helped the young one to get up and sit on a branch – and I got my opportunity to click it.

These are the images of the first brood from the first nest.

 
     
  Then, the Juveniles at age 12 days out of Nest (from second nest/brood):
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 6, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 15, 2007
 
     
  Then, the Juveniles (from the first nest/brood) at age 23 and 27 days out of nest:
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 15, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Juvenile) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 19, 2007
 
     
  Though I have not been able to find any reference that the same pair would make another nest and also lay eggs again in the same season with possibly just a gap of about six weeks. Some of my co-birders who have vast experience and are also in the line of life sciences do tell me that it is possible and is a matter of the availability of food in abundance for the young ones to be fed.

The female of the same pair which had laid eggs and reared it chick (s) was seen feeding the chick just out of nest and then a little later seen collecting the nesting material as also busy making another nest in the nearby tree – just about 10 meters from the first nest. It was observed incubating a few days later and has since hatched three chicks who have come out of the nest a little earlier than I thought. They showed signs of coming out on 28th July morning but on 30th could not be spotted near the nest as I was expecting. They must have moved about and I am hoping I would see them at various stages of their growth till they return by end September.

From this third nest (the second brood of the first pair, who made a second nest and laid eggs there), learnt another fact about the EGOs.

Whenever the parent would bring food to the nest, the hatchlings would be making a noise and their beaks could be seen moving in all directions and not stable to the beak of the parent. Learnt that their eyes do not open right away but probably open their eyes in about a week to ten days.

One of the chicks could be seen with the eye still covered. Look at these images which show the chick (s) with eyes open and shut.

 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Hatchling) Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Hatchling) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Hatchling) Oriolus oriolus
copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Hatchling) Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
     
  On the technical side, the EGOs arrive end March – early April and then depart September. The EGOs are known to nest in north India but then return down south. I have been birding regularly for almost five years at the OBP-WLS but have not seen a nest or a juvenile there before although a few birders have mentioned seeing nest there.

The EGOs are extensively mentioned in ancient Sanskrit Literature. An early reference as to the name of EGOs is in Rgveda – ‘Suparna’, a name it shares with Golden Eagle (This possibly explains that I used ‘eagle’ in place of ‘oriole’ in some of the images I shared on the internet groups.) The EGOs are also known by various other names in Sanskrit literature, viz., Kanchan, Chamikar, Pilak and so on.

The EGOs and their families have delighted me and the members of Delhi Bird Group and also a number of visitors from other cities.

I am sure they would happily stay at the OBP-WLS till end September when they would migrate and possibly return again year after year for a similar delightful and unforgettable experience.

Just one caveat. I am no Ornithologist or have ever studied any life sciences. This is not in line of any technical paper but is an attempt to share the experience with a few observations on breeding, feeding and to some extent behavior of the lovely EGOs.

Here they say au revoir.

 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Young male) Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole (Young male) Oriolus oriolus copyright Anand Arya; OBP; July 28, 2007
 
     
 
Eurasian Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus copyright Peter Phillips; February 7th 2004; Keoladeo National Park
 
     
 

[ Back ]

 
     
 
 
COPYRIGHT: delhibird - The Northern India Bird Network. All rights reserved.