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Black-naped Oriole
Oriolus chinensis

Dendang Selayang/Kunyit Besar (Malay)

Black-naped Orioles enjoy a wide menu of plants and animals. They are fond of fruit and berries, particularly figs. Besides large insects, they also take small animals, including nestlings. For this reason, during the breeding season of other birds, Black-naped Orioles are often chased away by other birds.

Black-naped Orioles rarely descend to the ground. They forage high in trees and usually say within the canopy. Nevertheless, they are not birds of the deep forest. Originally from coastal woodlands and mangroves, they have adapted to cultivated areas and parks and gardens.

Black-naped Orioles usually forage alone or in pairs. They are most active in the morning and evenings, making their melodious calls as they forage.

Breeding: Black-naped Orioles breed in Singapore. They build a cup-shaped nest at a fork at the end of a slender branch high in a tree. The nest is made from bark, small twigs, grass and roots. 2-3 bluish-white eggs with brown spots are laid. They hatch in about 2 weeks.
Mangrove and wetland wildlife at
Sungei Buloh Nature Park
Main features: Medium (27cm).

Male: Bright golden-yellow plumage; black mask through eyes meeting at nape; wings and tail black and yellow; bill pink; feet grey; eyes red.

Female: As in male but duller; mantle greenish yellow.

Juvenile: Underparts whitish with blackish streaks on breast; bill grey; lacks nape band which is a badge of age.

The black "bandit" eyemask goes
right through to
the back of the nape!
Call: Described as a fluty four-note whistle what-the-devil! or too-did-yoo or ta-KEE-you; a rising ai-oo-raa; a hissing like fighting tom cats.

In flight:
Fast, direct flight with unusual freezing of flapping at intervals.

Status in Singapore: Very common resident and winter visitor throughout the island and North and South offshore islands.

World distribution: India to the Philippines, but strangely absent from Borneo and doesn't breed in Thailand.

Classification: Family Corvidae (which includes Crows, Orioles, Ioras and Fantails). World 647 species, Singapore 17 species.
Migration: In winter, some Black-naped Orioles that breed in Indochina visit Singapore. They are indistinguishable from the local residents.

Status and threats: Black-naped Orioles are not at risk and rank among the top 10 most common residents in Singapore. They have adjusted very well to humans and are found even in the city. They arrived in Singapore from Indonesia and became established in the 1920's-30's

  To buy these references & others, visit
Nature's Niche
  • Morten Strange, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Malaysia and Singapore: including Southeast Asia, the Philippines and Borneo", Periplus, 2000 (p. 253: description, voice, habits, distribution, status, photo).
  • Morten Strange, "Tropical Birds of Malaysia and Singapore", Periplus Editions, 2000 (p. 49: habits, habitat, photo).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Pocket Checklist of the Birds of the Republic of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1999 (Abundance, status, Chinese and Malay names).
  • Morten Strange, "Birds of Southeast Asia: A photographic guide to the birds of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Indonesia", New Holland, 1998 (p. 72: photo, facts).
  • Lim Kim Seng and Dana Gardner, "Birds: An Illustrated Field Guide to the Birds of Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing Ltd., 1997 (p. 94: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, diagram, number of species).
  • G W H Davison and Chew Yen Fook, "A Photographic Guide to Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", New Holland Publishers Ltd., 1995 (p. 135: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, photo).
  • Morten Strange and Allen Jeyarajasingam, "Birds: A Photographic Guide to the Birds of Peninsular Malaysia and Singapore", Sun Tree Publishing, 1993 (p. 55: description, distribution, habits, habitat, photo).
  • Clive Briffett, "A Guide to the Common Birds of Singapore", BP Science Centre,1992 (p. 104-105: habit, habitat).
  • Christopher Hails, "Birds of Singapore" illustrated by Frank Jarvis, Times Editions, 1987 reprinted 1995 (p. 122-123: habits, description, status in Singapore, with lovely drawings of the birds).
  • Lim Kim Seng, "Vanishing Birds of Singapore", Nature Society (Singapore), 1992 (p. 14: status in Singapore).
  • M W F Tweedie, "Common Birds of the Malay Peninsula", Longman,1970 (p. 40: description, distribution, habits, habitat, drawing).
  • G C Madoc, "An Introduction to Malayan Birds", Malayan Nature Society, 1947 (p. 140-141: description, habits, habitat).
  • Sir John A S Bucknill and E N Chasen, "Birds of Singapore and South-East Asia", Tynron Press, 1927, edition 1990 (p. 234: identification, status in Singapore, distribution, field notes on habits, drawings).
  • Prof. Dr. Yong Hoi Sen (ed.), "The Encyclopedia of Malaysia: Animals"; Songbirds by Siti Hawa bt Yatim, Editions Didier Millet, 1998 (p. 47: habits, habitats).
By Ria Tan, 2001