This morning I saw a bird that I have never seen before. Since it was quite big, I'm very interested in knowing its name.

The bird was quite big, at least 2-3 times of a common blackbird. The wings were completely black but the whole back strip was quite yellow. Also the tail was yellow. The tail widens towards the end.

The bird flew very strange... it trundled towards the ground and then flew back up some meters before trundling down again. I observed the bird in Zurich, Switzerland at the outer border of the city. A big forest is quite near and there are some huge trees very close to the bird.

Then one last thing to add: I'm not really sure about that, but it could be that the bird had a nest on top of a big tree.

Any ideas which bird that could be?

  • $\begingroup$ When you say "yellow" do you mean bright yellow or brownish/cream? $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Mar 11, 2012 at 14:51
  • $\begingroup$ It's rather bright yellow. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2012 at 15:20
  • $\begingroup$ It's behavior and size makes it sound like a bird of prey... but its colors are definitely not those of a bird of prey. $\endgroup$
    – Preece
    Mar 13, 2012 at 8:54
  • $\begingroup$ Could it be a red kite? it is quite common in your area and there is no proof of vulture or eagle seen that period of time around Zurich (I guess it would be reported if it was); the form of the tail could be useful, the kites are the only one with a forked tail if not forked, it is another bird of prey (if you can confirm this point as well) $\endgroup$
    – рüффп
    Apr 8, 2015 at 21:50
  • $\begingroup$ There is no photograph. $\endgroup$
    – user25568
    Sep 18, 2016 at 15:23

3 Answers 3


Hmmmm... the only one I can think of fitting at least in part your description would be the golden oriole (Oriolus oriolus).

I say partly because it definitely is not 2-3 times a blackbird, could be slightly bigger, but on average it is the same size. Also it sounds extremely unlikely that you have spotted it in early March in Zurich, as they should be in Southern Africa right now.

Image, from Wikipedia:

Golden Oriole

I could not find anything else fitting your description in my field guide (Mullarney & Svensson - Birds of Europe)

  • $\begingroup$ It was definitively way bigger. More like a eagle or vulture. And the black part is way bigger. The yellow part is only a small strip over the back and the tail. $\endgroup$ Mar 11, 2012 at 16:22
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ hmmm... I cannot find anything like that. We'll have to wait for some ornitologist :) I'll leave the golden oriole photo as it is a very nice bird! $\endgroup$
    – nico
    Mar 11, 2012 at 16:46

Following your answer to my comment, I deduced the “yellow” color to be more brownish as there is not big bird with really bright yellow color (like the golden oriole). With these parameters I search as well in the ornitho.ch database (all observations given by ornithologist professionals and amateurs) : there was no observation of vulture or eagle in that area (could be possible sometime when they migrate).

Then the more possible answer was a red kite which is quite common summer time in this area (mainly on the north part of Switzerland).


Next time you see a bird of prey, try to take notice of the tail form (forked or flat or round) that can help more for determining the bird.


From what I understand of the flight description you give, and given the size and habitat, I would suggest to have a look at woodpeckers. Dryocopus martius is large and black.

Another idea (my favourite, actually): a bird of the genus Tetrao: they can be black and large, live in the forest, and the tail widens towards the end.

Other suggestions, but I really doubt it's relevant: - cormoran (Phalacrocorax for the size, dark color, and I've seen some perched in trees, and ther's a lake in Zürich); - Accipiter (for the flight and habitat): - Milvus (for the size, the tail, and the dark colour): - cuckoo (Cuculus canorus); - magpie (Pica pica, black, makes nests on top of high trees, but I suppose you would have recognised it without hesitation).

The yellow stripe on the back matches none of the above suggestions.


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