What Should You Feed Orioles?

what should you feed orioles

You can feed orioles many of the same foods as hummingbirds; nectar, fruit jelly, fresh juicy fruit and insects or mealworms. Orioles are also famous for loving the color orange so ripe oranges or other orange foods are a great way to attract orioles to your backyard.

If you would like to attract orioles with feeders, then think about their dietary needs during the different periods of the year. Orioles need different nutrients during the winter, migrating season and nesting season.

Read on to learn more about what you should feed orioles, where to place the feeder and when to feed different types of bird food.

Changing Diets of Orioles

In the United States, you are most likely to attract orioles to your backyard during the migrating season and with a bit of luck when they are nesting. One of the ways to lure orioles into your garden is to have the right foods for them.

Migrating orioles are keen on sweet food that gives them the energy to make the long flights. Nesting orioles seek out protein-rich food for their hatchling and for molting. Adjusting the food you put out in your backyard to the season will give you a better chance of attracting orioles.

Some species of oriole will start migrating north as early as late February but peak migration season is in March and April. Orioles start to head back south to the warmer climates of Central and South America around late August and September.

To encourage orioles to make a feeding stop in your backyard during migration season, put out sugary foods like homemade nectar, grape jelly and fresh fruit.

Place these foods out early in the season to have the biggest chance of spotting them. Orioles will then also remember your backyard as a feeding spot when they fly back to the south for winter.

Peak nesting season for orioles is from May through July. During this period, orioles are on the look out for nutritious food for their young, mostly insects.

If you’ve spotted the Oriole’s nest, a gray fibrous sack, in your shrubbery, then you can keep them happy with a supply of protein-rich bird food. Understandably, you might not want to go digging for beetles and ants. Instead, you can buy a sack of mealworms or a package of suet mixed with berries from the pet shop.

Another period wherein orioles need high protein diets is during the molting period. The molting period usually takes place either before the spring migration to the north or just before the winter migration. This means that the orioles in the US will likely be looking for protein rich food in August and September.

Orioles are at greater risk of predators during molting. You can help them grow strong healthy feathers during this period by offering suet or mealworms in their feeder.

What Kind of Feeder Attracts Orioles?

Feeders that are most noticeable to orioles are feeders in a bright orange color placed in an open but quiet space. These type of feeders is what will get them to swoop down into your yard.

There are bird feeders specifically designed for orioles but you can easily adjust a more affordable standard feeder to attract orioles. Add enough perches for the oriole to rest on and place orange fruit like persimmons, peaches and physalis to get their attention.

If you are buying a feeder that is already filled with bird feed, then make sure that the feeding ports are large enough. Feeders that have space for a small dish of nectar or fruit jelly are also useful.

If you are putting out sugary foods on a dish for orioles, make sure that the dish stays clean and free of other critters. Orioles are neat little birds and won’t want to eat from a dish that is already crowded with ants. Clean dishes will also prevent the build-up of mold which can be damaging to their health.

Our #1 Recommended Oriole Feeder!

How to Make Nectar for Oriole Feeders

Orioles love sweet foods so nectar is definitely one of their favorites. You can either buy flower nectar from the pet shop or make your own nectar with just water and sugar.

Making your own nectar only costs you a few cents because all you need is water and basic white granulated sugar. A common ratio of water to sugar for oriole nectar is six parts water to one part sugar – this is even less than the ratio for hummingbird nectar of 4:1.

Simply boil six parts water in a pan and stir in one part white granulated sugar. Don’t use other types of sugar to make nectar because birds can have trouble processing other sugars. Keep stirring until all the sugar has melted and then let the mixture cool before filling up the bird feeder.

Never add any food coloring or other chemicals to the mixture because this can be damaging to their health. Bird food should always be as natural as possible.

What Kind of Jelly Do Orioles Prefer?

Fruit jelly is very effective in attracting most birds to your backyard and the same goes for orioles. Like many other birds, orioles prefer grape jelly but enjoy orange marmalade as well because of the color.

Again, you should try to offer orioles food that is as natural as possible. Where possible, use an organic jelly with real sugars. The unnatural ingredients in generic brands of jelly and artificial sugars are potentially hazardous.

Don’t offer too much jelly to the orioles. Though delicious, jelly does not offer birds complete nutrition. Put out just a few tablespoons every few days so that the orioles will still go searching for more nutritious food like flower buds, wild berries and insects.

To attract orioles to your backyard, place an orange feeder with perches in an open and quiet space. In the feeder you can place sugary food like nectar, jelly and fruit during the migration period but more protein-rich food like insects, mealworms and suet during the nesting and molting period. Finally, always use bird feed that is as natural as possible to keep the orioles healthy.

Additional Info

Need a bit more help? Enjoy this video from eHow with some additional useful information.

Happy Birding!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *