If you live in the eastern part of North America and want to learn how to attract Orioles, you’ve come to the right place. Orioles are a delightful family of birds worthy of our garden admiration. Their beauty and grace while singing their unmatched songs are a pleasure to watch. Orioles use a wide variety of habitats year-round for breeding, wintering, or migrating. We’ll walk through some Orioles’ habitat preferences and discuss how to create an environment that will help attract them to your yard.
Here are a few ways to attract Orioles to your yard:
- Purchase for them brightly-colored feeders that have a wide perching platform and extra space to accommodate fruits and jelly.
- Put out hummingbird feeders with large ports, as Orioles are drawn to nectar as well.
- Plant Mandeville, bee balm, and honeysuckle in your garden, as these are their favorites.
Orioles present a striking contrast to most of the lesser colorful birds that we usually see in our backyard. These birds are not only brighter in appearance but also have a different diet. They’re primarily frugivores, with their diet consisting of fruits, nectar, and worms. Attracting these birds to your yard will give you aesthetic pleasure and will keep the population of insects there under control.
But how should you go about attracting these birds? That’s what we are here to talk about in detail. This article will discuss everything you need to know about attracting orioles, including their food, water, and shelter requirements.
Which Oriole species can you attract to your yard?
As most of you already know, the family of orioles is quite diverse, with over 60 different species globally, including both the New World and Old-World Orioles. Their population is distributed worldwide, and not all of them can be found in the United States.
Following are the oriole species that either inhabit the United States as a permanent resident or visit here as a guest:
- Bullock’s Oriole (Icterus bullockii)
- Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula)
- Orchard Oriole (Icterus spurius)
- Spot-breasted Oriole (Icterus pectoralis)
- Altamira Oriole (Icterus gularis)
- Streak-backed Oriole (Icterus pustulatus)
- Hooded Oriole (Icterus cucullatus)
- Audubon’s Oriole (Icterus graduacauda)
- Scott’s Oriole (Icterus parisorum)
While these oriole species are spotted in the United States and Canada, you cannot expect to attract all of them to your yard. Baltimore and Bullock’s Orioles are the two oriole species that are most likely to come to your backyard feeders. While Baltimore Orioles are common in the eastern parts of the States, the Bullock’s Orioles are abundant in the western regions.
Apart from these two, the Orchard Orioles are also easy to attract to your yard. These species dwell in the same areas as the Baltimore Orioles but can be distinguished from them due to their darker, almost brick red plumage.
If you reside in the southwestern part of the United States, the oriole species that are most likely to visit your garden are the Scott’s and Hooded Orioles. While the former has a distinct yellow and black plumage, the latter is known for having a small, black face mask and an otherwise yellowish-orange head.
The remaining four oriole species found in the country are timid and do not visit backyards often. However, if you play it right and provide them an environment where they feel at home, they just might surprise you.
While there are many factors responsible for the orioles visiting your yard, the one that plays a key role in preparing for their arrival in advance. When you’re planning to attract these birds, always remember that time is of the essence.
When orioles return home after migration, they’re tired and weary and would easily come into your yard if you can offer them their basic necessities: food and water. If you don’t attract them as soon as they return, you might not see them the entire season.
The best way to ensure that it doesn’t happen is to prepare in advance. Set up their feeders and water sources at least two weeks prior to the time around which they usually appear.
If you reside in the southern states, set up your yard in late March, as the orioles will arrive in early April. Towards the northern states, these birds reach a little later, so you can start preparing for them in April if you live in these parts. Consistency is also a key factor in drawing the orioles to your yard. If you set up feeders for them year after year, they are more likely to frequent in your yard.
Pro-tip: If you want to maximize the orioles’ stay in your yard, keep their accommodation prepared until late fall, when they start leaving for migration.
Using Oriole-specific feeders
You know how people say, “the right feeder can increase the chances of attracting the bird substantially”? Well, they’re absolutely right.
If you purchase/build a feeder that is tailored to the needs of the orioles, they are more likely to be drawn to it. But how would you know what these birdies look for in their feeders? Well, that’s what we are here to help you with.
Go for vibrant-colored feeders
Just like most birds that frequent in your backyard, the orioles are drawn to bright and vibrant colors as well. These colors remind them of bright flowers or fruits that they’re most fond of.
It is difficult to pinpoint why orioles have a special place in their hearts for the color orange. Most of the birders believe that it is because of their similarly-colored plumage, but it could be anything. You can use this knowledge to your advantage and purchase an orange-colored feeder for them.
Offer them a perching platform
Orioles are often compared to hummingbirds due to their fondness for nectar. However, these birdies are not hoverers like the latter and need a perching area to eat. Make sure you keep that in mind when you’re building/buying a feeder for them.
Additional spaces to put out fruits or insects
Orioles eat different kinds of foods like suet, jelly, fruits, nectar, and insects. Therefore, a feeder that has a single food storage container might not be ideal for them. Instead, get them a feeder with multiple containers where you can put out different kinds of food.
Place their feeders high on the trees
The placement of oriole feeders is equally crucial if you want them to visit your yard. You must remember that orioles are simple-minded birds and will simply choose a feeder that they can most easily spot.
Orioles usually reside on the treetops, so if you place your feeder high on the trees, they are more likely to find it in flight and feed on it. Setting up their feeder high has another benefit; orioles are shy birds and can scare easily.
They enjoy peace and quiet while they’re eating; being surrounded by human activity can be off-putting for them. If you keep these things in mind while placing their feeder, you might be successful in attracting them.
Offering them the right food
Many beginners make the mistake of thinking that merely setting up a traditional bird feeder will attract all kinds of birds to their yards. If you’re trying to attract orioles, the first thing you should know is that these birds are not interested in seeds like the other birds. Their diet consists of fruits, nectar, and insects instead.
In this section, we will talk about foods that can act as an irresistible buffet for the orioles:
We’ve already discussed earlier how the color orange attracts the orioles; it is also true for their food. Oranges (fruits) are one of these birds’ favorites; you can serve them orange slices or put out unpeeled orange halves to their feeder. They will gobble them up right away.
Homemade nectar: a delicious treat for the Orioles
Even though orioles do not survive solely on nectar like the hummingbirds, they’re equally crazy about it. Many birders even claim that they’ve noticed orioles trying to feed on their hummingbird feeders multiple times. You can use the classic hummingbird nectar recipe for your feathered friends as well; all you need is table sugar and water.
Grape jelly is an ideal food to serve the orioles when they return home from migration. Due to its high sugar content, the jelly gives them a burst of energy to recover from their tiresome travels and prepare themselves for the spring.
Mealworms: the ideal summer food
While fruits, nectar, and jelly are perfect for the orioles in spring and fall, during summers, a significant portion of their diet should consist of protein-rich food, such as insects like mealworms. The extra protein will help them with breeding and raising their younger ones.
Luring Orioles with moving a water source
It is true that all birds love water; it is, after all, a basic necessity for them. However, if you can install a moving water source in your yard, it will attract the orioles like nothing else will. These birds are crazy about the sight as well as the sound of moving water. A birdbath with a bubbler, a dripper, or a mister is, therefore, perfect to lure these birds into your yard.
When you’re getting a birdbath for orioles, make sure it’s deep enough for them to bathe, but not too deep. Orioles are small birds that might drown if the basin is too deep; the depth of 2-3 inches is ideal for them.
Also, change the water of the bath regularly, with an additional thorough cleaning once a week. It will ensure that no debris gets collected at the bottom of the bath, which could potentially infect the orioles.
Planting the right flowers and bushes: a bonus for the Orioles
Despite whichever feeder or birdbath you add to your yard, it would always feel like an incomplete home to the orioles without flora. Like most birds, orioles also want to be surrounded by the plants they like, both for nutritional purposes and otherwise.
If you’re keen on gardening, doing this bit for your feathered friends would be interesting for you as well. Following is the list of some of the plants that can attract these birds:
- Cardinal flowers
- Blueberry and Blackberry bushes
- Bee Balm
- Evergreen shrubs
- Elderberry bushes
Ant-proofing the feeder is crucial
It is no secret to us that orioles are a sucker for sweet treats. However, they are not the only creatures that find these treats enticing. Pests like ants, bees, and other insects are also drawn to them.
These unwanted little crawlers can not only contaminate the orioles’ food but also clog their ports, making it difficult for them to access it. Here are a couple of things you can do to ensure that it doesn’t happen to your feeder:
- Always purchase feeders that have an ant or bee guard.
- Adding a simple ant moat is another inexpensive way of ant-proofing your feeder.
- Vegetable oils are known for repelling many insects; you can rub them near the ports of your feeder.
Frequently asked questions
Can I offer suet to orioles?
Yes. Orioles are also omnivores like the jays and woodpeckers and are, therefore, drawn to suet feeders. If you purchase suet chunks or cakes, you can occasionally add them to their feeders without a problem.
Can orioles visit hummingbird feeders as well?
Yes, they can. Orioles tend to share the fondness of nectar and are often drawn to hummingbird feeders as well. However, drinking from these feeders is not convenient for them, as they have no perching platform. Their drinking ports are also often far too small for the orioles to dip their tongues in.
Conclusion: How to attract Orioles to your yard
Orioles are colorful and melodious birds that all of us would love in our yards. However, attracting these birdies into your yard is not an easy task. Not only do they have different dietary needs than most birds, but they’re also hesitant and take time to get acquainted with your yard.
At times, even after doing everything right, you might not see these birds in your yard for weeks or even months. But that’s okay; attracting orioles is a task that needs patience. And if you’re consistent, you will succeed in attracting them to your yard and see them year after year.