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ORIOLE (O. Fr. Oriol, Lat. aureolus)

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Originally appearing in Volume V20, Page 276 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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ORIOLE (O. Fr. Oriol, Lat. aureolus), the name once applied to a bird, from its golden colouring—the Orioles galbula of Linnaeus—but now commonly used in a much wider sense. The golden oriole, which is the type of the Passerine family Oriolidae, is a far from uncommon spring-visitor to the British Islands, but has very rarely bred there. On the continent of Europe it is a well-known if not an abundant bird, and its range in summer extends so far to the east as Irkutsk, while in winter it is found in Natal and Damaraland. In India it is replaced by a closely allied form, O. kundoo, the mango-bird, chiefly distinguishable by the male possessing a black streak behind as well as in front of the eye; and both in Asia and Africa are several other species more or less resembling O. galbula, but some depart considerably from that type, assuming a black head, or even a glowing crimson, instead of the ordinary yellow colouring, while others again remain constant to the dingy type of plumage which characterizes the female of the more normal form. Among these last are the aberrant species of the group Mimetes or Mimeta, belonging to the Australian Region, respecting which A. R. Wallace pointed out, first in the Zoological Society's Proceedings (1863, pp. 26-28), and afterwards in his Malay Archipelago (ii. pp. 150-153), the very curious signs of " mimicry " (see HONEY-EATER). It is a singular circumstance that this group Mimeta first received its name from P. P. King (Survey, &'c. of Australia, ii. 417) under the belief that the birds composing it belonged to the family Meliphagidae, which had assumed the appearance of orioles, whereas Wallace's investigations tend to show that the imitation (unconscious, of course) is on the part of the latter. The external similarity of the Mimeta and the Tropidorhynchus of the island of Bourn, oneof the Moluccas, is perfectly wonderful, and has again and again deceived some of the best ornithologists, though the birds are structurally far apart. Another genus which has been referred to the Oriolidae, and may here be mentioned, is Sphecotheres, peculiar to the Australian Region, and distinguishable from the more normal orioles by a bare space round the eye. Orioles are shy and restless birds, frequenting gardens and woods, and living on insects and fruit. The nest is pocket-shaped, of bark, grass and fibres, and the eggs are white or salmon-coloured with dark spots. The " American orioles " (see IcTERUS) belong to a different Passerine family, the Icteridae. (A. N.)
End of Article: ORIOLE (O. Fr. Oriol, Lat. aureolus)
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