Black-naped Oriole attacking sunbirds’ nest


Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) is an attractive bird with its golden-yellow plumage and prominent black band across the eyes (left). But how many people are aware that this beautiful bird has an aggressive nature, especially in its habit of destroying the nests of smaller birds?

Hails (1987) did report seeing the oriole being chased by other birds during the breeding season. And he suspects that it may rob the nests of smaller birds.

Prof Tan Teck Koon, a non-birder, was made painfully aware of this fact when he witnessed such attacks in the privacy of his home. A pair of sunbirds regularly builds their nests within the confines of his garden. The presence of Teck Koon’s family members doing their daily chores did nothing to discourage the nest building. Being a mushroom watcher and not a bird watcher, Teck Koon is not able to identify the species of sunbird, but he knows a sunbird when he sees one. And he recognises the typical elongated, pouch-like nest with a long beard (below).


These birds have been trying to breed in his garden for a number of times now. Unfortunately, each time after the nest had been built and the eggs laid, the nest would be raided.

He knows a raid is imminent when he hears the sharp, loud whistle of the Black-naped Oriole perched in a nearby tree. Then suddenly, the oriole will strike the nest, destroying it totally and splattering the eggs on the ground. The incubating bird would have escaped just before that raid.

Whether the oriole raids the nest for the eggs or just to destroy it, he is unable to say. But he has witnessed these raids three to four times. He even once tried to shoo off the oriole but without success.

Prof Tan Teck Koon
July 2007

(Images by YC Wee)

Hails, Christopher (1987). Birds of Singapore. Times Editions, Singapore.

5 Responses

  1. Tiba

    I had a similar experience with a Sunbird who built a nest on my balcony. The nest was hidden away quite well and the female hatched the eggs and the little birdies were just begining to get their colours and feathers when the nest was destroyed – apparently by an Oriole.It was heartwrenching to see the strewn nest and the poor mama and papa sunbirds crying around the balcony searching for the little ones.Orioles are quite common near my house.

  2. HB

    I saw the oriole ‘attacking’ or poking weaver bird’s nest this morning at Lorong Halus. The weaver tried to chase it away but it just went to another nest. luckily the nests were sturdy and not destroyed by it.

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