If you missed the last article in this series on where to place hummingbird feeders, check it out.
Orioles are usually the songbirds that you hear from your window. They are small, lovely birds that come in many species. There are nine species found in the United States.
Orioles are usually identified with their orange plumage. Depending on the sex and species, the color orange will be found across their backs or in spatterings.
They are smaller birds that have a sweet tooth. They love fruits, worms, and nectar.
There are several important steps to attracting Orioles to your bird feeder.
- Place the oriole feeders out in early spring before orioles arrive
- Understand the season and nutritional needs of orioles
- Choose the right feeder
- Hang the oriole feeder in a visible area
- Feed the food orioles crave
- Place near running water
- Locate near oriole friendly trees
- Plant oriole friendly bushes nearby
Each of these steps plays an important role in attracting the hard-to-see oriole bird.
Because orioles like to stay in the treetops, many people don’t even realize they are living among us.
But, following these steps will make it possible to see and observe orioles.
How To Attract Orioles To Your Feeders
Orioles give you a small window of opportunity for attracting them. Timing is everything. So is the placement and the type of food.
1. Put Oriole Feeders Out Early In The Spring
Orioles are very time-sensitive. When they come out, they look for a place to feed. If you don’t catch them early in the spring, they won’t come by the rest of the summer.
Or at least it will take drastic measures to get them to look for new places to feed.
Early May is often a good rule of thumb, although southern parts of the United States should put oriole feeders out in April.
2. Know Your Season And The Food Needs Of Orioles
You should understand the habits of orioles and their nutritional needs. Orioles eat a variety of foods.
When they migrate north in the spring, they need high-energy foods. They will be attracted to fruits, nectar, and even jelly.
But, in the late summer, their diet tends to change toward worms and grubs.
That’s when you should put mealworms in their feeders to keep them coming around.
- Spring and Early Summer: Fruits, nectar, and jelly
- Late Summer: mealworms
3. Use The Right Feeder
Orioles may look like they can get food out of hummingbird feeders, but their beaks are too large.
They will either damage the feeder or be unable to get food and move on.
Oriole feeders have larger ports for them to drink nectar up. Other Oriole feeders allow you to place the food in a dish for them to come and feast.
All Oriole feeders should have some orange on them. Orioles are attracted to the color orange.
4. Hang The Feeder In A Visible Place
Orioles love to stay in the treetops. They often perch so high in the trees that untrained eyes don’t even realize they are near.
So you will need to hang your feeders in a location that can be seen from the treetops.
This will help the Orioles in your area to see the food while they are nesting and resting.
Orioles nest in deciduous trees, not evergreens.
5. Oriole Food Preferences
As mentioned before orioles have a sweet tooth. They love fruits of all varieties.
Did you know?
There is one fruit that they love more than any other. Can you guess which one it is?
Orioles are attracted to the orange color and they love the sweet juice found in an orange. To feed orioles, just cut the orange in half and place in the feeder.
Orioles will love it.
They also love grape jelly. But, don’t make a pile of jelly too high. It can attract other birds and go bad faster.
Orioles will eat nectar.
When you make oriole nectar, mix 1 part sugar to 4 parts water. There is no need to color the nectar.
Orioles will eat jelly straight out of the jar. But, you can also mix it half and half with water to make it into nectar for oriole feeders.
As summer wanes, make sure to switch their diet to mealworms. Orioles need extra protein later in the summer and less sugar.
You can keep a variety on hand though so they can choose which foods they need the most.
If you live in a southern location where orioles reside for the winter, then suet is a great food for orioles.
- Orange halves
- Mulberries, raspberries, wild cherries, blackberries, and serviceberries.
- Nectar: 1 part sugar to 4 parts water
- Suet in the winter
6. Have Running Water Nearby
Orioles love the sound of water. It attracts them to an area.
They need water during the summer to maintain good health.
If you have a birdbath, pond, or other water feature, consider placing your oriole feeder closeby.
This will help the Orioles to find the feeder when they come to investigate the water.
7. Put Feeder Near Oriole Friendly Trees
Orioles love specific types of trees for their nesting. They are very picky in where they build a nest.
There are several tree species that orioles love:
These trees provide food, shelter, and nesting materials for the nest. Orioles have intricate nests that take a lot of time and care to build.
They possibly create the most complicated of all bird’s nests.
8. Plant Oriole Friendly Bushes and Flowers Nearby
If you are still struggling after a few summers to attract orioles to your yard, then you can take more permanent measures to bring these pretty friends around.
Try planting bushes and flowers that orioles love.
Any flower that’s colored orange will be loved by orioles.
Plus, nearly any berry bush will also be treasured for food.
- Orange flowers: lilies, trumpet flowers, pansies, tulips, butterfly weed and more!
- Fruiting bushes and trees: especially blackberries, boysenberries, raspberries, blueberries, and mulberries.
It may take a few years for the Orioles to realize what you are offering. Orioles aren’t super visible so it can be hard to know when to put out food.
Talk to other local birders so you can track when orioles come into your area.
9. Common Orioles In the United States
There are nine species of orioles in North America. Five of them are more commonly seen. The most common species of orioles are:
- Baltimore Oriole: Black and orange. Found in the midwestern and eastern United States
- Bullock’s Oriole: Similar in looks to the Baltimore Orioles. Widespread in the western United States, Canada, and Mexico.
- Orchard Oriole: the smallest oriole. Rarely feeds at nectar feeders. It is found in the midwest and the Eastern US.
- Scott’s Oriole: A lemon-yellow and blackbird that’s found throughout the southwest. Loves feeders. This oriole nests in the yucca plant.
- Hooded Oriole: Male has an orange hood. It loves palm trees and is found in the southwest.
Once orioles find a spot they like, they continue to come back throughout the year and following years.
Don’t forget to check out Where to place a finch bird feeder, which will tell you everything you need to know about attracting finches to your backyard!
Feature Photo Credit Flickr Frank Boston
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