How To Attract Orioles [Our 7 Tips That WORK!]

how to attract orioles

Orioles are such pretty little birds that it’s no wonder that many bird enthusiasts want to attract them into their yard. Their bright orange plumage is easy to spot when you can observe them at your oriole feeders and in your trees.

Even though Orioles aren’t rare, not many people have the pleasure of seeing them because they’re quite shy little birds and tend to hide high up in the trees. But, there are things that you can do to lure them down from the trees and enjoy the food that you’ve put out for them.

Here are 7 expert tips on how you can attract orioles to your yard.

Attracting Orioles: Our 7 Top Tips!

1. Timing Is Everything

If you want to attract orioles, you need to get the timing right. It’s important to have food available for them as soon as they arrive from their migratory journey. At this time, they’ll be tired from their journey and will be looking for an easy food source to replenish their energy straight away.

Make sure that you put out your bird feeders a week or two before their anticipated arrival. If they come to your yard when they arrive and see a good food source, they’re likely to stick around for the rest of the season.

In central and south America, you should expect orioles to arrive at the beginning of April. If you live further north, you probably won’t see these delightful little birds until May.

This means that you should consider putting out your oriole feeders around late March or early April, depending on where you live. Make sure you keep these feeders out and stocked all spring and summer and don’t take them down until late fall.

2. Use The Right Type Of Feeders

It’s no secret that orioles are attracted to the color orange. So, if you can find an orange oriole feeder, this will help in attracting the little birds.

Another thing you can do is tie a bright orange ribbon around the feeder or around a tree that is very close to the feeder. This will help to attract the bird’s attention as they’re flying overhead.

Although orioles will try and feed from hummingbird feeders, they’re tongues aren’t long enough to reach the nectar inside. Therefore, you should look for feeders that are made specifically for orioles.

The feeder should have large perches for the birds to sit on so that they can get a good feed in comfort.

3. Choose The Feeder Location Carefully

In order for orioles to find your feeder, they have to be able to see it. Place the feeder out in the open so it can be spotted from high up in the trees. If you hang an orange ribbon from the feeder, this will catch the eye of the oriole as the ribbon gently flaps in the breeze.

Another thing to remember is that orioles are quite shy and it will take them some time to feel comfortable enough to come down from the trees and utilize your feeders. Therefore, place the feeder in a quiet spot that you don’t frequent often and that is not a playground for your pets.

It’s also important to remember that you’re going to be offering the birds sweet foods that are also likely to attract ants. To stop the ants from fouling up the nectar or jelly, consider adding an ant moat to your feeder.

Most importantly, you should be patient as it might take a little time for these timid little birds to be comfortable enough to enjoy a meal at your feeders.

4. Offer The Right Type Of Foods At The Right Times

When the orioles first arrive, they’ll need a good energy boost. This means that you should have some nectar available for them. You can use hummingbird nectar or make your own using the following recipe.

Combine 1 cup grape jelly, 1 cup water, ½ cup of sugar and the juice from half an orange in a saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil while stirring until the sugar is completely dissolved. Let the mixture cool down to room temperature before putting it in the feeder. Any left over mixture can be stored in the refrigerator.

Orioles are also extremely fond of oranges and grape jelly. You can hang orange halves from the feeder or from a nearby branch. Grape jelly should be served in an open cup or dish. The dish should be quite shallow, around 1 inch deep, and around 3 to 4 inches wide.

Make sure that you use jelly that is free from anything artificial such as sweeteners, flavoring or coloring. It’s also vital that you keep an eye on the jelly and replace it if it starts to look less than fresh.

During the breeding season in summer, orioles need a little more protein in their diet and to feed their young. For this reason, you should offer them mealworms. These can easily be sprinkled on top of the jelly cups. You can also supply your visitors with some dried mealworms in a separate tray placed on or near the feeder.

Sometimes, orioles will also visit suet feeders, so it’s worth putting one of these out as well.

Also remember that you should not stop feeding the orioles nectar and fruits when you put out the mealworms as these birds still need the energy derived from those foods. They’ll also need copious amounts of these nectar rich foods before they start their migratory journey south in the fall.

Here are some other foods that orioles love:

  • Bananas
  • Cherries
  • Berries like strawberries, raspberries and blackberries
  • Grapes
  • Sugar Water
Interesting Fact
Sugar water is an Oriole favourite, from the Hooded Oriole to the Bullock’s Oriole; be sure to invest a feeder made specifically for sugar water to encourage these stunning birds to your yard.

5. Make Sure You Have A Fresh Water Source Available; Bird Baths!

Like all birds, orioles need water to stay hydrated and cool down in the heat of summer. A shallow bird bath is ideal for this. However, if you can install one with a fountain, the birds will definitely love to visit your yard.

You see, you can entice orioles to moving water. They absolutely love the sound and sight of the moving water. Therefore, consider placing a solar fountain in the middle of your bird bath or get a bath that already has its own fountain.

Bear in mind, that the basin should only be around 2 to 3 inches deep so that the birds can happily drink and bathe in the water. Make sure that you check the water often to ensure that it’s clean and free from any leaves or other debris.

6. Plant Some Colorful Flowers In Your Garden

Orioles are nectar feeders, among other things, and although your homemade nectar is ideal, they do love visiting flowers that are filled with deliciously sweet nectar.

Choose vibrant, colorful flowers, especially orange, red, pink and yellow ones. Consider native plants to your area as these will also attract insects that orioles will feed on during nesting season. You’ll find that tubular flowers contain the most nectar and are popular with these birds.

Some flowers to consider are:

  • Bee balm
  • Honeysuckle
  • Cardinal flowers
  • Mandevilla
  • Columbine
  • Coral Bells
  • Hyssops
  • Salvias
  • Trumpet Vine

Also remember that orioles love to feed on berries, so consider planting some vines or shrubs that produce colorful berries. Orioles do prefer dark colored fruits so choose from some of the following:

  • Mulberries
  • Serviceberries
  • Brambles
  • Cherries
  • Blueberries
  • Blackberries
  • Elderberries

The added bonus of adding these plants to your garden is that they will also attract many other types of birds as well.

7. Provide The Right Nesting Materials

If you want the orioles to hang around all throughout the summer season, it’s important to ensure that your yard has suitable nesting places and materials available for the birds to use.

Orioles like to build their nests in tall deciduous trees such as elms, willows, oaks, cottonwoods or poplars. If you have one or more of these trees in your yard, then there’s a good chance that the visiting orioles will build a nest in it.

To encourage nesting, the next thing to consider is suitable nesting materials. Orioles like to use plant fibers, grasses, strips of bark, vines and even pieces of string to build their nests. Consider placing some pet dander, hair or pieces of yarn out where the birds can easily find them. Lengths of yarn that are around 3 to 4 inches long are ideal.

Oriole nests are tightly woven and these are hung from suitable branches high up in the trees. Once these birds have built a nest in your yard, you might find that they come back year after year to use the same nest after they’ve refurbished it.

Final Thoughts

It’s not that difficult to attract colorful orioles to your yard if you offer them the right type of food and a nice, fresh water source. Primarily, orioles are attracted to the color orange and simply love feasting on oranges, grape jelly and lovely sweet nectar.

During the breeding season, orioles also require some protein in their diet, so consider offering them some mealworms. As a bonus, if you have one or two large deciduous trees and plenty of useful nesting materials, you might find that the birds will hang around all summer long.

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