Spring is such an exciting time for bird watching around my house here in Kentucky. Song birds are starting to arrive such as the Eastern Phoebe which has been here for about two weeks now, the Tree Swallow which I spotted just last week, and over this past weekend, the Chipping Sparrow. Warblers are starting to arrive and the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds will be coming in the next few weeks which I posted about last week. See post HERE. Around the same time as the hummers are the Orioles. Those beautiful, bright orange and black birds will be arriving and we have to be prepared for them too if we want to be able to enjoy them. Do you know how to attract Orioles?
How To Attract Orioles
In the mid-west and eastern side of the United States and parts of Canada you will get Baltimore Orioles and Orchard Orioles. Baltimore Orioles arrive starting around April 1st in the more southern states and show up in Canada around late May. As I mentioned earlier, Kentucky is about mid-April to late April so figure the more north you are add another two weeks or so.
It is best to attract Orioles when they first appear as it gives you a higher possibility of them sticking around. So depending on where you live you may want to put your feeder out about a week or so ahead of time.
While the Oriole’s diet consists of caterpillars, beetles, grasshoppers, wasps, snails, spiders, berries, and the nectar from flowers, they also have no problem coming in to backyard feeders. This is especially if there are oranges, grape jelly, or nectar to entice them. Some people claim that jam works well too for them and not necessarily just grape flavor. It can also be cranberry, strawberry, or blackberry and the Orioles will clean out the dish they say.
With oranges, all you have to do is cut them in half and stick into tree limbs, on some type of hook or post, or if you prefer, on a store bought feeder that provides a place to hook the oranges on. These feeders usually have a dish for jelly too. You can use the cheaper jelly as the Orioles don’t mind it.
Of course there are also those small, flat hanging bird baths that work well too. You can place the orange halves and/or jelly on it and hang it out in a tree or on a hook from your deck or patio.
Orioles also like nectar which you can make just like you would for hummingbirds. The recipe is below:
- Mix 1 part granulated sugar with 4 parts water and bring to a boil to kill any bacteria or mold present.
- Cool and fill feeder.
- Extra sugar water may be stored in a refrigerator.
You do NOT need to add any dye to the water as it is not good for the birds.
While you can use a regular hummingbird feeder that has a perch it may be a better idea to purchase a nectar feeder made especially for Orioles. The reason being is that Orioles love the color of orange which is the color of this type of feeder. That plus the fact that some Oriole feeders contain the bowl for the nectar and also a hook that you can place orange halves on. Now that is an added bonus that will surely make them happy. These can be purchased in many wild bird supply stores.
NOTE: My husband and I have had more luck with the oranges than the nectar but other people have had great success with it.
Plants That Attract Orioles
Another way to attract Orioles to your backyard is to have landscaping that provides a food source for them. Orioles love dark colored fruits so having cherry, chokecherry, raspberry, serviceberry, blackberry, blueberry, native mulberry, and elderberry are a plus. Native Honeysuckle is another favorite. Orioles will love these plants and also many other bird species too especially during the breeding season.
Baltimore Orioles can be found high up in trees usually. They like open woodland but generally are not seen in the deep forest. You will find them at the forest edge, around wooded wetlands, in suburban backyards, and in parks. They tend to build nests in elms, cottonwoods, and maple trees.
Other Species of Orioles
There are nine different species of Orioles in the United States. The Baltimore and Orchard Orioles are found in the eastern and mid west states. Bullock’s Orioles are found throughout the west, and Hooded (photo left) and Scott’s Orioles are found in the southwest. We have actually had a Hooded Oriole in our backyard at our home in Paducah, Kentucky when we lived there. It was spotted in November 2008 and was the only confirmed sighting of one in Kentucky as it was a rare sighting. Pretty cool huh?!
The other four Orioles are the Spot-breasted found only in Central Florida, and the Altamira Oriole (photo right), Audubon’s Oriole, and Streak-backed Orioles which are found in the extreme edges of Texas and Mexico.
If you want to attract Orioles to your backyard there are a few things that you can do. Orioles like oranges so you can cut them into halves and stick in your tree limb, on a hook, in a flat type tray for them, or in a store purchased Oriole bird feeder. They also like grape jelly, and nectar. The nectar may be from flowers or it can be the homemade nectar kind that you use to attract hummingbirds. Just remember that Orioles need to be able to perch on something to be able to get to the nectar so having the right nectar feeder is a must.
The trick is to attract Orioles early when they first arrive as you will have better luck in keeping them around. Keep in mind that Orioles spend more of their time higher up in trees so by making your feeder more visible for them you will have much better luck. For example, we put orange halves out on tree limbs that were in a more open area. That way the Orioles could spot them better and boy did they come in.
How about you? Have you had any luck attracting Orioles to your backyard? Let me know what you do to attract them as I would love to hear from you. Please feel free to make your comments below.
I don’t see any Orioles up here in New England. I’ve seen Blue Jays and Cardinals in spring, but no Orioles. How interesting that these orange color birds actually like the color orange and eat oranges. Amazing how you can attract them with different fruit jams. I wouldn’t have thought of that.
Kevin, thanks for your comments! Orioles usually arrive in Massachusetts around the first of May so maybe that’s why you haven’t seen any. You will usually find them in open woods, orchards, and generally higher up in trees. They do love oranges so if you have a habitat near woods or with some trees put some on it to see if you can attract them. They are such beauties to see!