The design of hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders is different but that doesn’t mean that these birds cannot use the feeders interchangeably. Hummingbirds are smaller than orioles so they will have no issue sticking their beak into the larger feeding holes of oriole feeders.
Have you ever spotted a hummingbird eating from an oriole feeder or vice versa? It is possible but you will see that each bird has a preference in design if given the option.
Read on to learn more about the difference between hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders.
What Is the Difference Between a Hummingbird Feeder and an Oriole Feeder?
Both hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders are designed to hold nectar, one of the favorite foods of these birds. The feeders will have feeding ports that the bird can stick their beak through to get to the nectar.
Feeders specific to hummingbirds and orioles were designed to operate somewhat similar to flowers. This is so that the birds will be familiar with the feeding mechanism.
There are two main differences between a hummingbird feeder and an oriole feeder. The first difference is the size of the feeding ports. Hummingbirds are smaller and have smaller beaks so the feeding ports of hummingbird feeders are smaller, too.
The smaller size of hummingbird feeders helps to keep other birds at bay; larger birds will struggle to reach inside with larger beaks. However, depending on the feeder design, it is quite common to see orioles using a hummingbird feeder. Orioles are willing to struggle a little to reach that sweet nectar.
In contrast, hummingbirds will have less difficulty feeding from an oriole feeder. This is because the larger holes are not an obstacle for the hummingbird. However, if there are already orioles or other birds present, a hummingbird might be discouraged to try. The presence of larger birds can scare away hummingbirds.
Another difference between hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders is the perches. Oriole feeders have more perches and they are larger too. Hummingbird feeders have smaller perches or even none at all.
The lack of perches makes it more difficult for an oriole to eat from a hummingbird feeder. Hummingbirds, on the other hand, will not be bothered by the perches on an oriole feeder.
Hummingbirds Are Attracted to Red
Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. This is why many hummingbird feeders will incorporate the color red in some way.
Sometimes you will also find red hummingbird nectar in the pet shop. The idea is that the color will attract more hummingbirds but it really isn’t necessary to use a food dye. In fact, the chemical used in a dye can be harmful to hummingbirds.
Instead of store-bought nectar, simply make your own simple sugar nectar, without any food coloring. This is safer for the hummingbirds and it saves you a few bucks, as well.
Orioles, on the other hand, are attracted to the color orange. This is why some oriole feeders are orange or include terracotta.
Though orange is not the favorite color of hummingbirds, you might still catch them feeding from an oriole feeder. Most bright colors will catch the attention of birds because it is an indicator of sweet nectar. It is just that some colors work better for certain birds compared to other colors.
Where to Place a Feeder
There are a few things to think about when deciding on where to place a bird feeder. You need to consider its visibility, how shaded or sunny the spot is, the vegetation near the feeder and how busy it is.
Hummingbirds and orioles are both shy birds. They prefer their feeders to be in an open but quiet place near vegetation. This lets them quickly swoop down on the feeder while also being able to rest and hide in the shrubbery.
Another thing to remember for hummingbirds and orioles is that the nectar feeder should be placed in a somewhat shady area. This will prevent the nectar from spoiling due to too much sun exposure.
Hummingbirds and Their Territory
Aside from where you place the feeder in your backyard, you should also think about how many feeders there are in your backyard. Hummingbirds can get territorial. If there are several feeders in too small an area, then the dominant hummingbird might chase away other hummingbirds trying to get to the feeders.
Territory is less of an issue between hummingbirds and other birds, though. Yes, hummingbirds might not come to feed when there are too many large birds crowded around the feeder. But, you might still spot a hummingbird at an oriole feeder when the oriole is not around.
The best way to attract as many birds as possible is to space out the feeders. A hummingbird won’t be concerned with a feeder that is out of sight so you can have several hummingbirds feeding in different areas of your backyard.
It also helps to place a mix of oriole and hummingbird feeders. Though hummingbirds can use oriole feeders, if there is a hummingbird feeder too then, both bird species will quickly realize they have their own preference. In other words, they’ll both have their own favorite feeder without getting in each other’s way.
In short, hummingbirds are able to use an oriole feeder. However, the design difference between hummingbird feeders and oriole feeders are there for a reason. If your goal is to have as many birds as possible in your backyard, then it best to place a mix of specialized feeders in your backyard. Placing several feeders in different spots will also help to give each hummingbird or different bird their own space to feed.