When orioles migrate for the summer, they bring a splash of color to Central and Northern America. To tempt them to your garden, you need to be prepared for the first birds to arrive in early spring and providing the right food is a good way to start. Once they’ve found that your garden is a good source of food, they’ll return to try to find it every year.
They need a good combination of sweet foods and proteins, so here are our top 5 foods for orioles.
1. Grape jelly
When they first arrive in your garden, they’ll need the calories from sweet foods to replace the energy they’ve lost during the migration. One thing orioles love is grapes and grape jelly.
You can buy oriole feeders to put this in so you can have different feeders set up to attract different birds. Once the orioles find your grape jelly feeder, you’ll be spending a lot of time topping it up as they just can’t get enough of it.
If you want to give them some variety, you can also offer them orange marmalade, red cherry, strawberry, raspberry or apple jellies.
Prepare grape jelly for the feeder
Using equal quantities of grape jelly and water, mix the two together. Blend until it looks like thick fruit juice, then pour as much as you need to in your feeder. Any remaining grape jelly can be stored in the refrigerator to be used when the orioles have enjoyed the first batch.
To get the best from your feeder:
- Always check the jelly daily, particularly in warmer weather. The sugar can turn to mold very quickly.
- Try to give them smooth jelly, and if you don’t have a feeder, place it around the garden in small dishes or you can use a hollowed out orange half.
- Always use jams and jellies with the sugar left in as this is what the orioles need to give them their energy. If you use sugar substitutes or sugar free jellies, the orioles won’t be able to get what they need and sugar substitutes can contain chemicals which are actually harmful to the birds.
As well as jams and jellies, orioles love fruit. If they live off jelly alone, they won’t get the essential proteins and nutrients that they need.
- Crushed grapes are a popular choice with orioles.
- They love oranges too, so put some orange halves around the garden.
- Sliced apples, peaches and red berries are all the right color to attract orioles.
- Bananas can be mashed or sliced in with other fruits.
Planting your own fruit bushes is another good way for orioles to feed, and what’s left can be used for the family. Orioles love berries, so raspberries, huckleberries, blueberries and blackberries are all good choices.
As well as fruit, orioles love nectar and you can fill a feeder with the same sugar water you use for hummingbirds. As with grape jelly, do not use sugar water with any artificial sweeteners.
You can also plant flowers to attract the orioles. You need colorful blooms which are naturally high in nectar such as honeysuckle, petunias, and any plants which have nice orange blooms. Just remember not to spray your garden with pesticides so that you do not harm the orioles.
Towards the end of the summer the orioles will start to build up their bodies for their return journey, and for this they need protein. They get this largely from insects. They will eat any insects in your garden, including wasps and they love mealworms.
These are usually available in most pet stores and it doesn’t matter if they’re dried or frozen. You can add some to the fruit you leave out or you can spread some around the garden. The orioles will soon find them.
Suet is another good food item to help them prepare for their flight home. It has fat and protein to help them build up their resources for their return migration. Peanut butter is another good source, and these two foods can be mixed together with fruits or berries to make a tasty oriole snack.