The Black-naped Oriole (Oriolus chinensis) is a common resident of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia. However, come winter, the population is increased by the arrival of migratory birds from the north.
During the breeding season, the shrill, flute-like whistles of these birds fill the air as the males defend their territories as well as attract females. There may be occasional aerial chases as the birds zig-zag round trees, sometimes ending in midair grappling.
The arrival of a female bird will be aggressively courted by the males, with high-speed aerial chase through and above trees. The birds may be so close that the male may almost touch the tail of the female.
In the case of the Northern Oriole (Zcterus galbula), courtship display consists of the male bowing in front of the female with wings lowered and fanned tail somewhat cocked upwards. The female may respond by either ignoring the male, singing or chattering. She may even lean forward and quiver her wings and vocalise in response.
Have birders from Malaysia and Singapore published any articles on the courtship behaviour of our local species of oriole? Or made any observations? If so, can you please share?
Dr. Redzlan Abdul Rahman
Raub, Pahang, Malaysia
Edinger, B.B. (1988). Extra-pair courtship and copulation attempts in Northern Orioles. The Condor 90:546-54.