Family Old World Orioles (Oriolidae)

Least Concern

Eastern Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus)


French: Loriot masqué German: Maskenpirol Spanish: Oropéndola enmascarada
Other common names: African Black-headed Oriole, Black-headed Oriole

Oriolus larvatus

M. H. C. Lichtenstein

, 1823,

“Terr. Caffror” = Cape Province, South Africa


See O. monacha. Sometimes treated as conspecific with O. percivali, and they may hybridize in C Kenya. Race tibicen previously listed under replacement name additus, but supposed preoccupation of tibicen was based on a nomen nudum#R. Nominate and angolensis appear to intergrade clinally in Zimbabwe. Proposed race kikuyensis (Nairobi) inseparable from rolleti. Five subspecies recognized.

Subspecies and Distribution
  • O. l. rolleti Salvadori, 1864 – S South Sudan, W & S Ethiopia, E DRCongo (to c. 2° S), Uganda, W & C Kenya, L Victoria Basin.
  • O. l. reichenowi Zedlitz, 1916 – coastal forests of Somalia to E Tanzania (S to c. 9° S).
  • O. l. angolensis Neumann, 1905 – Angola and N Namibia E to W Tanzania and N Mozambique, S to N & E Botswana and N & NE South Africa.
  • O. l. tibicen Lawson, 1962 – coastal S Tanzania S to coastal S Mozambique.
  • O. l. larvatus M. H. C. Lichtenstein, 1823 – S Zimbabwe, inland S Mozambique, Swaziland and E South Africa (S to SE Western Cape).
  • Descriptive notes

    20–21·5 cm; 59–72 g. Nominate race has head and neck to upper breast glossy black, mantle bright yellow, scapulars and back yellowish olive-green, rump... read more


    Song comprises wide vocabulary of liquid whistles, e.g. “ku-weeo”, “tyup, pu-wa-... read more


    Moist mature woodlands and forests, fairly closed-canopy deciduous woodlands in mesic savanna... read more

    Food and feeding

    Small fruits and berries, e.g. of aloes (Aloe), Trema, figs (Ficus), loquats (Eriobotrya japonica),... read more


    Breeding in Mar–Jun and Nov in Kenya, Jan–May in Uganda, Sept–Dec in Tanzania, Oct–Nov in DRCongo, Sept–Dec... read more


    Resident, with some local movements in response to food availability; perhaps some seasonal... read more

    Status and conservation

    Not globally threatened. Fairly common to common in parts of its range of c. 6,000,000 km². Breeding densities vary, generally 0·04–0·22 individuals/... read more

    Recommended citation

    Walther, B. & Jones, P. (2020). Eastern Black-headed Oriole (Oriolus larvatus). In: del Hoyo, J., Elliott, A., Sargatal, J., Christie, D.A. & de Juana, E. (eds.). Handbook of the Birds of the World Alive. Lynx Edicions, Barcelona. (retrieved from on 24 January 2020).