How To Attract Orioles: Our 7 Top Tips!

how to attract orioles

With their wonderful vibrant color, Orioles are a welcome addition to any garden. As with all birds there are ways to attract them and if you’re wondering how to attract orioles, our 7 top tips will help.

If you prepare your garden early enough you can be set up ready when they return from migration. Make sure you have lots of orange flowers or that your feeder is wrapped in orange ribbon, as they are attracted to this color. They do enjoy sugar water, just like hummingbirds birds, and the feeder should be placed somewhere quiet, ideally near water. A bird bath with a bubbler will give them the water they need and the movement caused by the bubbles will help to attract them. Orioles don’t like to be disturbed by noise or activity, so finding them a nice quiet place to feed is a must.

Once you have attracted them you may want to encourage them to nest. If you place various nesting materials in a basket or somewhere in your garden where they can find it there’s a good chance they will use it to build their nests somewhere in your yard.


There are many species of oriole the most common are the Baltimore oriole, Bullock’s oriole, the Orchard oriole, Scott’s oriole and the Hooded oriole.

The type of oriole you attract will depend on where you live. If you live in the east or mid western areas of the country you are far more likely to see Baltimore and Orchard orioles, whereas in the west the Bullock’s oriole is the more common variety. Scott’s and Hooded orioles are mostly seen in the south-west of the country.

Orioles migrate for the winter and during this season you can find them in Mexico, Central and South America and even in warmer parts of the country such as Florida. They migrate back north in early spring and this is when your garden should be ready and prepared for them to find a good place for nesting.

If you wait until you see orioles in your yard, there’s a good chance they have already found another place to nest. You need to be quick if you want to attract Orioles because the opportunity to do so doesn’t last long. They start to fly south for the winter during August so you need to make the most of the time that they can spend in your garden.

Why would you want to attract orioles?

The question should really be why would you not want to attract them? The plumage of these birds is so striking and colorful that they bring your garden to life. The orange or yellow colors are a beautiful addition to any garden, and when combined with their lovely musical song, almost like a whistle, they are a bird that everyone can enjoy watching.

There are a few other fun reasons why you might enjoy watching their behavior.

  • Unlike some other birds orchard orioles are not particularly territorial. They generally don’t bother to protect their territory which is why you can often see more than one nest in the same tree.
  • Although they enjoy nectar they also love insects so they really help you to keep control of these in your garden. Eating insects also means they don’t carry seeds which can fall and start to germinate in an area of the garden where you would rather it didn’t.
  • If you are fortunate enough to have a nest in your garden you may enjoy listening out for the babies, although it can get rather noisy. Young orioles always seem to be hungry and never seem to stop asking for food. This is why they are nicknamed “the crybabies of the bird world”, and it can be very entertaining to listen to them.

Our 7 Awesome Tips!

While there is never any guarantee these wonderful birds will be attracted to your garden, there are several things you can do to encourage them.

1. Be prepared

Orioles nest during the spring so have your garden prepared and ready for their return. Don’t wait until you start to see them, because by then there’s a good chance they will already have set up home in someone else’s yard.

By the time the birds return to nest you should have everything in place, including the feeder. While you don’t want the food to go off and the feeder to get dirty, it’s imperative that orioles find feeders ready for them to use as soon as they return.

2. Feeders

You can usually use the same feeder for both orioles and hummingbirds. Just remember, however, that hummingbirds can be territorial and they are far more skilled at feeding while in flight.

A good feeder for orioles is one which provides a perch so that they can sit while they feed or it’s best to invest in a feeder specifically designed for orioles.

The feeder should be set up in the early spring so that orioles can spot them when they return from migration. These birds have very good memories and if you put the feeders out every year they will always remember where to find them.

Just like hummingbirds, orioles love sugar water and nectar. Sugar water should always be fresh and you can make up a larger batch to put some in the feeder and keep some in the fridge.

To make your nectar it’s one cup of sugar to four cups of boiling water. Add the sugar to the water and immediately remove from the heat. It’s important not to overheat it as it will alter the consistency and taste. Stir all the sugar in and then allow it to cool. You do not need to add coloring as this can sometimes alter the taste of the water.

Make sure you keep the feeder clean and topped up with fresh sugar water throughout the summer. If any water is left in the feeder when you go to clean it, always throw this away, clean the feeder thoroughly, and then top up with fresh water. While it can be very tempting, never just put fresh nectar on top of old nectar.

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3. Put color in your garden

Orioles love orange, which may be why their feathers are such a wonderful color.

If you place lots of orange in your garden you may find this is a great way to attract them. You can tie orange ribbons to your feeder and your trees, and planting orange flowers will not only attract them but will give them fresh nectar to feed on too. Anything orange in your garden will stand out to the orioles as they fly past and they may well come down to investigate further.

4. Food

While orioles will have a great time eating the insects in your garden, they do enjoy other foods which you can prepare for them.

It may come as no surprise to learn that they love oranges. Fresh oranges cut in half and placed in the garden every day will soon have the orioles coming to investigate. If you find ants are becoming a problem simply place the orange halves in a shallow bowl of water so that the birds can get to them but the ants can’t. You may also be able to find a feeder which has a slot for fresh orange slices.

They also love jelly, particularly grape jelly. If you have the right feeder you may be able to put the jelly in there. Otherwise place a couple tablespoons in a small dish or container and then sit back and watch them fly in to enjoy it.

You must be careful when providing sugary foods, however, as sugar can quickly turn to mold. Don’t just leave these foods out. Always check them and in warmer weather you may find that you have to replace them daily.

Later in the summer the orioles are less attracted to sugary foods and are instead eating more of the insects in your garden. This is natural behavior as once they have replaced the energy they lost during the migration, they done then have to add more protein into their diets to prepare them for the next migration. You can help them do this by also providing mealworms and suet in your garden.

5. Placement

Making sure the feeder is in the right place is very important or you could frighten the orioles away before you start. If you put it in a very busy area of the garden they may choose a quieter garden for their nesting. Once they are used to the garden and activity that goes on they lose some of their shyness. If you place the feeder in the open the orioles are far more likely to see it than if it is hidden underneath the tree. A lot of Orioles will be attracted by something on the ground as they fly so the easier it is for them to see your garden and your feeder the more likely it is they will come down to investigate.

While some orioles may not be territorial, it is still best to place multiple feeders in different areas of the garden. If you put them in the same place you may attract one pair of orioles but no more.

6. Water

Humans like to have fluids with their food and orioles are no exception. They will need water for drinking and bathing, so if you have a bird bath in your yard they will enjoy using it. Add a bubbler or dripper and this too can attract them. They love to see and hear moving water, so they will love your bird bath if it has it. Adding orange ribbon around the base will give your bird bath even more appeal.

Be careful not put too much water in. At the deepest point it should be only 2 to 3 inches.

7. Keep things clean

Everything you put out for your orioles should be kept clean.

  • Sugar water, fruit and any jelly should be checked every day and replaced if necessary.
  • The feeder should always be cleaned before you change sugar water to make sure no residue is left which could potentially go moldy.
  • Even the water in your bird bath should be checked and cleaned regularly so that it does not get dirty or full of dead insects.

Encourage nesting

Providing food, water and shelter will certainly encourage orioles into your garden, but you can also encourage them to nest there.

They prefer trees which are native to the area, so don’t plant trees which will be out of place. Research the orioles which are native to your area and make sure you have the right trees and shrubs for them to nest in.

Before the orioles appear in spring, put out nesting material. They like strips of cloth and even string, and if you provide it for them, they’ll take advantage of not having to forage around to find it themselves. If they do build a nest, leave it in place when they migrate. They will return the next year and re-use the materials in it.

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