Attracting and Feeding Orioles

How To Attract Orioles

Most birds migrate at night, spending daytime hours to forage for food and rest. When they arrive at a location in the early morning hours these birds are cold, tired, and hungry. The first thing they will do is to locate a source of food. This is why timing is important when attempting to attract such birds as Orioles or Hummingbirds. You need to be ready for them and have the food in place prior to their arrival. For Orioles, have your feeders out by April 25th. The arrival date for Orioles in the Central Great Plains is April 25 to May 15. For hummingbirds be ready the week before Mother’s Day, which is May 10th. You may need to refresh the nectar, jelly, or oranges once or twice before they arrive, but the effort will be well worth it. Variables, such as weather, may slow down their arrival. Locating these products in a shady area will help to keep them fresh longer. But remember, birds find food by sight. So, make them easily visible.

Those most likely to attract Orioles are people in rural areas, or on the edges of urbanized areas with large mature trees in mixed open areas. That is not to say folks inside cities cannot attract them as well. The Dutchers, who live in the heart of the Belmont community, have been attracting orioles for several years. They have a grape arbor, and Orioles love to bill the nectar from the grapes, and a cherry tree where they will feed on over-ripened fruit. Lori and Roger also put up an Oriole feeder as well. There are also several very large Sycamore trees in their neighborhood, perfect for Orioles to build a nest in. In urbanized areas, those who border open city parks or a commons area have the potential to attract these colorful birds.

If you’re in an area and you’re not sure if you will attract Orioles, simply cut an orange in half and spear it on the end of a branch. Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Catbirds, and Fritillary Butterflies will also enjoy it. You may even be surprised at who else stops by. But for those who have successfully attracted Orioles, they have found that grape jelly, not jam, will become their preference, and many have reported going through several pounds of jelly each week. The Orioles may drift away from the feeders while feeding their brood insects, but will return, often with their young in tow.

Nectar feeders designed for Orioles are also very popular with these birds. You can use the powdered nectar, and mix it yourself, or try the popular pre-mixed nectar, also available for hummingbirds.

If you are in a rural setting, keep watch for the Orchard Oriole, a beautiful red-rust colored and black bird that will feed on the same products as the more common Baltimore Oriole. In Western Nebraska you may even attract the Bullock’ Oriole. The Orioles will remain through the summer, with the females beginning to leave by Mid-August. The males will remain on their territory into Mid-September.

So keep in mind, if you want to attract Orioles, BE READY by April 25th. It’s not that you won’t attract them later than that. It is just once they locate a food source it may be difficult to attract them away from it unless that source disappears. And don’t expect to attract just one pair. Often time’s people will have as many as four, five, or more Orioles competing for your offerings.

Ask Wild Bird Habitat’s staff about attracting hummingbirds, and watch for our hummingbird section in the May Wild Bird Habitat Store newsletter. Be ready for these little “Jewels” by Mother’s Day.

More about attracting and feeding Orioles

Fun Oriole Facts
  • Young Orioles have been named “The Crybabies of the Bird World” due to their frequent and seemingly never-ending calls for food.
  • Orioles have a brush like tongue used for lapping up nectar and jelly. They will also feed on fruited suets.
  • All oriole males have a loud, pleasing, almost metallic whistle. Orioles are useful insect eaters.
  • As the name implies, orchard orioles frequently nest in orchards. The female builds the large, rounded nest, with a constructed rim, of weeds, fibers, and dried grasses. Their stay is quite brief: they raise one brood and then they’re gone, usually by the end of July.
  • Orchard orioles do nothing to defend their territory and are even willing to share a tree with another pair.

2 thoughts on “Attracting and Feeding Orioles

  1. Lauerence says:

    Please encourage purchasing jelly made with natural ingredients versus unhealthy high fructose corn syrup. Purchasing locally made jellies is a good way to go.

  2. Barb says:

    Hi There,
    I’m up in Southern Manitoba Canada. Today is May 20th. It hasn’t been warm here and this morning it actually snowed.
    I usually have 2 pair of Baltimore Orioles that nest and rear their young. They bring their young to the Jelly feeders and teach them.
    Well the last couple of days has seen an influx of Orioles. Today I counted, at ONE TIME, 18 of them. A mix of Male and Female. I don’t expect them all to stay but right now they’re enjoyed the jelly.
    I don’t usually put out orange pieces, because they never touch them. I have put out Dried Mealworms and they won’t touch those either. Although a few weeks back I was feeding at least 100 Robins the dried Mealworms. This was during a blizzard that dumped snow so no open ground for them!

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