Don’t you just love bird watching? There is something therapeutic about watching the birds fly around the lawn while sipping coffee on the front porch. If you love birds and enjoy seeing them flock to your yard, most likely you have seen orioles fly around and want to attract more of them. While these birds are not endangered, they can be hard to spot sometimes.
If you want to see more orioles often in your yard, there are several ways you can do to make them come to you. However, do not try to capture and keep them as pets as it may be illegal to do so in your area. Attracting orioles can be a fun activity, and if you want to see more of these colorful birds, read on.
Fun Facts About Orioles
- There are different species of orioles, but all of them are brightly colored and sometimes with contrasting colors of black or dark feathers. Black or dark patches are often seen on their tails, heads, backs, or wings.
- There are around 33 species of orioles with sizes ranging from 6-10 inches long and usually weigh not more than 56 grams.
- Oriole means golden, and they got their name from the Latin aureolus.
- These birds are close relatives to blackbirds, grackles, meadowlarks, and bobolinks as they all belong to the Icteridae family.
- Orioles can live in different habitats. Some of the common places they inhabit are river edges, open forests, shrublands, and marsh, while there are some that also live in city parks and farms, and places where there are berries and fruit-bearing trees.
- These colorful and vibrant birds eat both animals and plants. Their diet may differ depending on the type of species. The most common food they eat are insects, seeds, berries, fruits, and some small invertebrates such as beetles, spiders, ants, worms, caterpillars, snails, and grasshoppers. For fruits and berries, they usually prefer cherries, strawberries, mulberries, raspberries, bananas, and a lot more.
- While orioles are beautiful to look at, it is not recommended to make them as pets. It is not only illegal to keep an oriole in some places, but they are also considered as wild animals that have special needs and care demands that may be challenging to meet if you have no experience.
- Orioles are known to be architects and engineers when building their nests. They can spend about 12 days building one. They build their nest by weaving grasses, plant fibers, tree barks, vines, and sometimes yarns to create a hanging basket. They use only their beaks to tie thousands of knots.
- Most of the time, Orchard orioles nest close to each other, where you may find several nests in a single tree.
- These birds typically lay their eggs during the months of April to June with about 4 to 5 eggs.
Different Kinds of Orioles
Before we show you how to attract orioles, let’s discuss first some of the common types of orioles that you may encounter in your yard. By knowing the different types, you can plan and attract the right oriole to your yard.
The Baltimore oriole has a black and orange color that is usually found in the eastern and midwestern United States. They look very similar to the Bullock’s orioles where they sometimes interbreed. In the past, the two were recognized as 1 species and were called the Northern orioles. The name can still be found in some old books, so don’t be confused in case you encounter one.
Baltimore orioles prefer warm climates which is why when winter comes, most of them fly to the tropics. However, since many people are attracted to the Baltimore oriole, some prefer to stay even in when winter where they find comfort in feeders filled with treats to attract them. Baltimore oriole’s songs vary and are believed to be unique from one another. It is said that female orioles can identify and find their mates through their unique songs.
As you may have expected, male Bullock’s orioles have the same orange and black color as the Baltimore oriole. You can enjoy seeing them during the summer in the western part of the U.S. Bullock’s orioles like to nest in tall trees near rivers and streams. They got their name in honor of William Bullock together with his son. The two were known for doing extensive ornithology work in Mexico way back in the 1800s.
Adult male Bullock’s orioles have slim bodies with medium-long tails. Their bills are sharply pointed with black lines on their eyes and throat. Females Bullock’s orioles also have slim and sturdy bodies but their color is lighter than males Bullock’s orioles having yellowish-orange and grayish-black colors. These type of orioles usually nests in open woodland where streams are nearby but you can also find them in parks and orchards. Similar to other species of orioles, Bullock’s orioles love fruits and nectars. However, they usually feed on caterpillars while they stand on branches of shrubs and trees. When they hunt for prey, they typically stretch or hang upside down to catch them.
It is impossible to miss the male Scott’s orioles due to their black and lemon yellow colors. They love flocking on feeders with nectar. These birds are normally seen in Northern Utah and Eastern California. Since they are nectar lovers, they usually feed on the yucca flower’s nectar and they sometimes use the fibers from dead yucca to build their nests. This is why even if these birds are known to create nests in extremely tall trees, some prefer to build on short yucca plants. Aside from nectar, they also feed on fruits and small invertebrates.
These birds were named in honor of the longest-serving military general in the United States, General Winfield Scott. The male orioles will sing even before the sun rises and during the day. These birds are mostly shy and you will hear their song first before you even spot them. It is believed that female orioles will sing as well to respond to the male’s song.
While orchard orioles are smaller compared to other types of orioles, adult males have a distinct deep chestnut color combination. These birds are common across the east and the midwest U.S. They are rarely seen compared to Baltimore orioles because they seldom visit nectar feeders. Orchard oriole mostly feeds on insects, such as grasshoppers, beetles, caterpillars, and spiders. However, you will also see these birds feed on berries, especially during winter and fall, and nectar and some parts of the flower.
Spot-breasted Orioles are known to be native to Central America in the past. They were kept as cage birds and escaped in the 1940s. This is why during summer, only Baltimore and orchard orioles can be spotted in southern Florida. But when they escaped, they can now be seen in Florida. Both female and male oriole look alike, unlike the other species of orioles, wherein male has a more vibrant color and female has a lighter or duller shade.
Female Spot-breasted oriole also sings just like the male oriole, however, they tend to have a thinner and simpler tone. Just like other species, these birds like berries, insects, and sweet nectar. Their habitat is in the forest edges, open woodlands, suburban neighborhoods, and ranches.
Hooded Orioles are also sometimes called palm-leaf orioles as they love to weave their nests on palm fronds. They try their best to stay hidden while hunting for food. However, because these birds love to chat and their large body, they are usually spotted easily. A hooded oriole may also feed on hummingbird feeders. Usually in an awkward position, where they bend or hang upside down just to get a drink. To attract these orioles to your yard, you can set out slices of oranges, homemade nectar, or jelly. You can place the food on a platform or on a hummingbird feeder.
Altamira Orioles are known to be nonmigratory orioles because they stay in a subtropical climate, even in winter. They usually reside in Central America and Mexico. Similar to the hooded oriole, the female and male orioles look the same, however, they are much bigger than a hooded oriole. These birds can be found in dry woodlands and open areas with scattered arid scrublands and trees. Altamira orioles eat larvae from branches and leaves, small fruits, and insects.
Tips for Attracting Orioles
Now that you are familiar with the common orioles across central and south America, it is now time to learn how to attract orioles. So, here are a few tips that you can try to bring orioles to your yard.
Put Out a Bird Bath Near Bird Feeders
Just like other birds, orioles need water to stay hydrated and to survive. They are mostly attracted to moving water as they love the sound and sight of it. This is also one of the reasons why these birds love building nests near streams. If your bird bath has a dripper or bubbler, the more you will attract them. They also love shallow dishes, so make sure your basins are not more than 2-3 inches deep so they can drink and bathe properly. Be sure to replace the water regularly to keep it clean and free of debris. To attract them better, you can place the bird baths near your bird feeders.
Use Oriole Feeders
If you want to attract orioles, avoid those bird feeders that you use to attract hummingbirds. It’s best to use an oriole feeder, because they have bigger tongues and do not have the skill to hover around them, causing the hummingbird feeders to topple over. Although they will still be attracted to a hummingbird feeder, it will be harder for them to get food. Go for an oriole feeder with bigger drinking ports and perches.
Identify the Right Feeder Location
Don’t just place an oriole feeder randomly as you will most likely fail to attract orioles. You need to think like them. Since they are always flying and are usually perched on top of a tree, you need to place the feeding stations out in the open where they can easily find them. You would also want to avoid placing the feeders where human activity is present as this will scare them away. They are more likely to come near feeders where they eat peacefully without fear. If you are successful, you will notice that the birds will come to your yard every year.
Timing is the Key
To attract orioles, you need to find the right timing in setting up your bird feeders. It is recommended to put out feeders at least 2 weeks before the orioles start their spring migration. They need to see the feeders when they arrive, so they know where to find them and use them later. Most orioles arrive in April in the southern part of the states and continue to migrate north until May. Set up your feeders either in late March or early April.
Offer the Right Kind of Food Depending on the Season
While orioles are attracted to fresh fruits and jelly, you may want to hold grape jelly and ripe fruits during the summer. During summer, orioles prefer protein-rich food such as meal worms. They need more protein at this time of the year for breeding. When nesting season begins, you can help them get additional protein by adding meal worms to their diet. You can provide them with dried mealworms on a separate feeder all summer to keep them coming to your yard. Orioles may also visit suet feeders if you have one.
Attract Orioles With Orange Color
Orioles are attracted to bright colors like hummingbirds are. Though hummingbirds go for red, orioles are attracted to the color orange. If you will notice most feeders are usually orange. Tie some bright orange ribbons around trees, railings, high branches, and bushes to attract orioles. You can also put out some orange garden flags to get their attention. Soon you will find these beautiful birds at your feeding stations.
Aside from yellow ribbons, you can also use orange halves to get their attention. They love orange halves and slices. Although some people think that orioles don’t actually eat the orange halves, they are rather attracted because of the color. Whether they eat it or not, you can use fresh oranges to entice orioles your yard. Other options you can add to your yard are gazing balls and trellis that are painted in orange hues. These add ons will start bringing orioles to your garden in no time.
Entice Them With Grape Jelly
Orioles consume grape jelly to restore their energy after migration. However, compared to other birds that eat ripe fruits, they seem to be more attracted to dark-colored fruits. You can attract to your yard by feeding orioles with dark grape jelly. You can try Welch’s grape jelly or other more affordable brands. Serve the jelly in a shallow dish or cup. Since jellies can develop mold easily, you can make them last longer by mixing one part of water with one part of jelly. Mix them together in a blender until you get the right consistency, which is like a thick juice. Never use food coloring just to come up with a dark-colored jelly. Also, avoid those that contain high-fructose corn syrup.
Give Them Homemade Nectar
Of course, you can easily purchase nectars at the grocery store. However, you can also make your own as it is very easy to do. Like hummingbirds, orioles are also fond of nectar to boost their energy. To make your homemade nectar, you can mix in one part sugar with four parts hot water. Mix them together until the sugar is dissolved. Be sure to allow it to cool before giving it to the birds. You can store the excess mixture in the fridge for up to a week.
Attract Them With the Right Flowers and Native Plants
Add some native trees and flowers to your garden if you want to attract orioles. Native plants and flowers provide them with the nutrition they need. Give your yard a makeover by planting flowers that are bright orange and are nectar-producing. Check out which native plants can grow in your garden. You can check online or ask your oriole-lover neighbors.
You can also plant some berry-producing bushes such as cherries and mulberries. But if you want to attract orioles to your yard more effectively, go for blueberries and blackberries since they love dark-colored food. If you are also attracting hummingbirds, you can also plant some bee balm, cardinal flowers, and honeysuckle. Both hummingbirds and orioles prefer these kinds of plants.
Keep Feeders and Bird Baths Clean
One way to keep these shy birds healthy is by keeping their feeders and bird baths clean and ant-free. Since orioles feed on nectar and grape jelly which are both sweet, their feeders can easily attract ants, bees, and other insects. To prevent this from happening, you should always replace your jelly and sugar water regularly. This will not only keep bugs and ants away, but can also prevent contamination. Some nectar feeders have bee or ant guards to keep these pests away. If yours does not have one, you can rub vegetable oil close to the feeder holes. This will keep your jellies and sugar water safe from insects. Don’t forget your bird baths, too. Keep them clean and use only clean and fresh water.
Another tip for attracting orioles is making your yard a good place for them to build oriole nests. Providing them with birdhouses will be not work in attracting orioles as they prefer to nest on tall deciduous trees. If you have trees such as oak, elm, willow, cottonwood, or other similar trees in your yard, there is a chance that you can attract orioles and encourage them to build nests on your trees.
You can place some pet fur, yarns, plant fibers, grasses, trumpet vines, and strips of bark across your yard for them to find. They can use these materials to create their nests.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where should oriole feeders be placed?
Keep the oriole feeders away from direct sunlight and wind. The heat of the sun may spoil the food that you put in the feeders. On the other hand, the wind may cause the feeders to sway and spill the food. The feeders should also be placed safely in an open area where the birds could see them overhead. They should be about 7 feet off of the ground. Just make sure that they are not exposed to both sun and the wind.
How do I attract Baltimore Orioles to my yard?
You can attract Baltimore Orioles to your yard by luring them with the right foods. Baltimore Orioles like to feed on insects and sweet treats. Give them sugary fruits, nectar, or grape jelly. You may also want to invest in a quality jelly feeder to ensure that the jelly will be kept protected and fresh.
What time of the day do orioles feed?
The best time of the day to feed the orioles would be in the early morning. Birds usually travel or migrate at night. When morning comes, these feathered creatures are very tired and hungry. Set up the feeders before the orioles arrive and make the feeders easily visible to them.
How do I attract new orioles to a new feeder?
If you want to attract new orioles to a new feeder, you should place it out in an uncovered place. Make sure the birds could see it easily. Orioles love oranges. You may want to put slices of oranges on the feeder. They are also attracted to dark-colored fruits such as grapes, apples, or berries. They also like grape jelly, as stated earlier. Do not forget to place water near the feeders, too. Birds need to bathe and drink. Therefore, there must be a source of water near your feeders. They love moving water. So it is encouraged to put a bubbler in your birdbath. Follow these simple tips, and you will surely attract new orioles to your new feeder in no time.
Do orioles eat seeds?
The first thing you need to know about orioles is they are not like most birds that feed on seeds. They prefer fresh fruit, especially ripe fruit, insects, and nectar. If you have a traditional bird feeder, that won’t work with orioles. It’s recommended to put up a feeder intended for orioles.
Are you ready to see more orioles flying overhead around your yard? Attracting orioles is almost the same as attracting hummingbirds. However, you need to be more patient as they are usually more visible during early spring. Whether you are interested to attract a Baltimore oriole or an orchard oriole, patience is the key as these birds can be shy. But once you have learned how to attract orioles, you will be surprised to see some of them perched on your tree branches and feeding stations. Good luck attracting these brightly colored birds into your yard. Let us know if the tips mentioned above worked for you.