Why is attracting orioles to your backyard so fun and exciting?

 

I think it’s a combination of a few things. First, regardless of the species (Baltimore, Orchard, Bullocks), orioles are absolutely gorgeous! I think their exotic orange plumage makes them look like they belong in a rain forest instead of the United States and Canada.

How To Attract Orioles

The other reason is that even though orioles are not rare, they are uncommon to see. I know many people who have NEVER observed an oriole. These shy birds tend to stay high up in the trees AWAY from people. I love being able to show someone orioles at my feeders for the first time and witness how they can’t believe these birds exist near us!

 

Today I provide 5 effective strategies you can use to attract orioles!

 

Assuming you live in the USA or southern Canada, then you can potentially watch orioles in your backyard during the summer months. It’s going to take a bit of effort on your part to initially attract these beautiful birds, but once they start coming, they can quickly become regular feeder visitors.

 


Strategy #1: Select Foods That Orioles ACTUALLY Eat!

 

To attract orioles, you can’t use standard bird seed mixes that include foods like sunflower, safflower, peanuts, and corn.

 

That’s because orioles have a different diet that DOES NOT include seeds. In the wild they prefer eating ripe fruits and insects, so we need to mimic what they naturally eat as best as possible.

 

In general, there are 4 foods used for attracting orioles:

 

1. Fruit

You finally have a great way to get rid of old fruit in your house that you’re not going to eat!

 

That’s because orioles enjoy eating a wide variety of fruit, including oranges, grapes, bananas, berries, and cherries.

best oriole feeders for oranges

The fruit that I prefer using is an orange sliced in half. That’s because orioles love eating oranges! And as a bonus, orioles are naturally attracted to the color orange. I also like that oranges are generally inexpensive, don’t spoil quickly if appropriately stored, and can be used in a wide variety of bird feeders.

 

2. Jelly

When it comes to feeding orioles jelly, it seems that grape works best.

 

Jelly that is made for humans is fine for feeding orioles. Just head to your local grocery store and buy an inexpensive brand.

 

My preference is buying jelly that comes in a squeeze bottle to avoid the mess of scooping it out with a spoon! And make sure you purchase jelly and not jam.

 

3. Nectar

Similar to hummingbirds, orioles enjoy drinking sugar water for an instant energy burst!

hummingbird and oriole nectar

You can purchase pre-made nectar, but it’s easy to make your own! Just mix 4 parts water with 1 part table sugar, and you’re done!

 

Unfortunately, you typically can’t use your hummingbird nectar feeders for orioles. That’s because their bills are too big to fit into the tiny ports that typical hummingbird feeders posses. But have no fear, Strategy #2 below details some nectar feeders that are designed specifically for orioles!

 

4. Mealworms

Since orioles also eat insects, they may come to your feeder if you offer mealworms.

mealworms for bluebirds

Mealworms can be offered two ways: Dead or alive.

 

  • Freeze-dried (dead): You can buy large bulk packs of mealworms that can be stored for long periods. Freeze-dried is not nearly as appealing to birds as living mealworms.

 

  • Alive: You can purchase living mealworms either at a local pet store or online. Dealing with living mealworms is a lot more work than buying freeze-dried, but birds will go crazy over having a live treat!

 

In full disclosure, I have not had much luck attracting and feeding orioles with mealworms. I have had the most success with fruit, jelly, and nectar.

 


Strategy #2: Be Seasonally Savvy With The Foods You Offer.

 

It’s essential to understand the natural history of orioles. You want to make sure you are putting out the correct food at the right times of the year to have the best chance at attracting them.

 

Here is what I mean:

 

In case you didn’t know, orioles are not year-round visitors to most of the USA and Canada. Orioles typically spend their winters in Central America and migrate back north in late April or early May to breed and raise their young. Then in September, nature calls and they make the long migration back south.

 

For most of us, we have 4 months each year to attract orioles!

 

And to complicate things a bit more, an orioles diet changes from the time they arrive back from migration to the time they leave again at the end of summer.

 

But don’t worry, here is a simple guide of what and when you should be feeding orioles. Please know that the diet of your local birds may VARY GREATLY, depending on the exact species, weather, location, and food availability.

 

Spring and Late Summer/Early Fall:

attracting orioles with fruit and oranges

 

Feed foods high in sugar, such as jelly, ripe fruits, and nectar. The sugar is converted into energy needed for migration. The fruits that seem to work best at oriole feeders are orange halves and grapes.

 

Summer:

During the summer months, Most of an orioles diet consists of insects. The additional protein is needed while they are breeding and raising their young. Try offering dried mealworms in a tray or cup to keep orioles coming to your feeders all summer. Lastly, don’t stop feeding fruits, nectar, and jelly until the orioles stop eating these foods each day.

 

I have the most luck attracting orioles in Spring as they arrive from their migration.

 

Unfortunately, just as I am getting used to the daily show of orioles each Spring, it seems like their diet switches without warning, and they quit coming to the oranges and jelly they reliably ate just days before. At this time, it’s necessary to switch to mealworms to try and get the birds coming back all summer.

 


Strategy #3: Use Oriole Friendly Feeders.

 

So far we have discussed the right foods you need to use to attract orioles, and then the best times of year to offer these foods.

 

The next strategy for attracting orioles is selecting specialized bird feeders that can feed these birds their unique diet!

 

For example, here is a video of one of my favorite feeders for orioles:

 

I love that it can feed THREE different foods at one time! The feeder holds nectar in the bottom dish, which birds access by sticking their beak through the four feeding ports. On the top orange lid, there are four small cups where jelly can be placed. Lastly, the metal rod used for hanging the feeder can be used to skewer half oranges (not pictured in the above video).

 

For a complete list of different feeders that can be used to attract orioles, check out my below article! The post gives some great ideas for repurposing some of your current bird feeders for orioles, including using a nail and hammer!

 

Want a LIVE look at my oriole feeders?

Press PLAY below to see what’s happening at my bird feeding station.

Depending on the time of year, I may not be trying or able to attract orioles. Or you may be reading this at night, in which case you get to see the cameras impressive night vision, but probably no birds. 🙂

 


Strategy #4: Provide Water.

 

This strategy isn’t just for attracting orioles. Offering a water source can also be used for drawing lots of additional species to your backyard, including birds that generally don’t visit feeders, such as warblers, hawks, robins, etc.

 

The reason is simple. ALL birds and animals need to drink. If you provide a clean and consistent source of water, you may be surprised at what will show up.

 

To provide water in your backyard, you are going to need to purchase a bird bath (unless you are lucky enough to have a lake or river nearby!).

 

Don’t believe me that bird baths attract unique birds?

 

Check out this awesome video of a Red-shouldered Hawk drinking from my ground bird bath.

 

The heated birdbath seen above is made by Farm InnovatorsView Cost - Amazon

 

Bird baths come in all sorts of shapes, colors, styles, and price ranges. To learn more about what to look for in a birdbath, check out this article that I wrote: The Bird Bath Buying Guide: 8 Questions To Ask Yourself.

 


Strategy #5: Plant Native Trees That Appeal To Orioles!

 

Planting native trees and shrubs are the best way to attract orioles without having the constant maintenance that feeders require. Just think about it, once a tree is established, you don’t have to do anything except maybe water it every so often!

 

Trees and shrubs provide important places for orioles to nest, hide, eat, perch, and roost.

 

Here are a few of the best native plants you can use:

 

Tree species that orioles will use for NESTING: Oak, maple, sycamore, and elm trees.

attracting orioles to nest and have babies, nestlings

  • Along with being preferred nesting locations, these native trees provide large quantities of insects that orioles require while raising their nestlings. Unfortunately, orioles seem to prefer large, mature trees, so if you are just planting a small tree, you may have a long wait on your hands. 🙁

 

  • On a side note, orioles build some of the most complicated nests of any species. The nests are woven from hundreds of strands of fibers and hang from the ends of tree branches. To encourage nesting in your yard, you can try providing 6-inch or shorter pieces of biodegradable string and yarn, which can be placed in a suet feeder.

 

Plants that provide fruit for FOOD and NUTRITION:

The list is long, but a few popular fruit trees and shrubs that orioles love are are mulberry, wild cherry, raspberry, blackberry, serviceberry, and dogwood berries.

 

Lastly, orioles are naturally attracted to the color orange. Try to landscape your yard with plants that have orange flowers. Last summer, I planted a Trumpet Vine in our backyard, which provides dozens of bright orange nectar-filled flowers that should help not only attract orioles, but it’s a favorite for hummingbirds (and Trumpet Vines grow EXTREMELY fast!).

 


Frequently Asked Questions:

 

1. What are the most common species of orioles?

 

This question is hard to answer because it depends on where you live! Three common species of orioles are observed across the United States and southern Canada.

  • Baltimore Oriole: The most common oriole in the eastern USA. Summer range is most of the USA and southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. They spend winters in Florida and Central America.

 

  • Orchard Oriole: Summer range is the USA east of the Rocky Mountains. Spends its winters in Central America.

 

  • Bullocks Oriole: The most common oriole in the western USA. Their summer range is west of the Rocky Mountains. Spends winters in Central America.

 

RELATED: The 8 Orioles Found in the United States and Canada! (w/ Range Maps)

 


2. How long will it take for orioles to start visiting my backyard?

 

Unfortunately, this question is impossible to answer.

 

To be honest, you may never see an oriole in your backyard, even though you diligently set out the correct foods every day, supply fresh water, and have large, beautiful trees that are perfect for housing oriole nests.

 

On the other hand, you may put an orange out at the beginning of May and have birds visiting within 24 hours.

 

If you are having issues attracting orioles, don’t give up too fast!

 

It’s not uncommon to try for a few seasons before the orioles find you and know they can count on your yard to provide delicious food all season long. My recommendation is to try at least 3 years before giving up.

 


Final Thoughts and Conclusion:

how to attract orioles to backyard

At this point, I hope you are feeling confident in your ability to attract orioles to your backyard!

 

We have gone over the following 5 simple strategies:

  1. Feeding the types of foods that orioles eat at bird feeders.

  2. Being seasonally savvy with your food selection.

  3. Selecting appropriate oriole feeders.

  4. Offering fresh and clean water.

  5. Planting native trees and shrubs that appeal to orioles.

 

And please do not give up!

 

Tomorrow could be the day that a beautiful, orange oriole finally discovers your tasty jelly, nectar, fruit, and mealworms.

 

What tips can you share that help attract orioles?

47 responses to “Attract Orioles With These 5 SIMPLE Strategies (2020)”

  1. Diane says:

    Hi Sara at my old home I had lots of Orioles but when there dishes where dry of jelly or jam they loved both fruit or orange was pretty much gone when I would walk outside they would chatter at me of course I would reply I know I know dishes are empty will get right on it. Went on all the time they wrre there. Every year. Do yes I would say this is normal enjoy it nature is great❤❤❤

  2. Sue says:

    I had Baltimore Orioles for the first time EVER! The first one was eating orange-flavored suet at my suet feeder,so I quickly set out orange halves and grape jelly. They definitely prefer Welch’s over store brand! I refresh the jelly daily. I did have dried mealworm in the same feeder but have pulled them to make a starling family move along. I will try offering a larger variety of fruits and try to find suit with no mix-ins. Bonus is that I now have catbirds who love the jelly too!

  3. Helen says:

    You can order online. The Orioles we have in MA haven’t been eating the sugar water mix. They liked the oranges and grape jelly.

  4. Gay says:

    You left out the Hooded Oriole that habitats on the west coast of USA. They are yellow with black bib. They nest in palm trees. None of my feed stores or pet food stores stock Oriole feeders. Help please.

  5. Deb says:

    Place a few rocks in it to step into.

  6. Deb says:

    Our orioles eat with everyone around but the Mockingbird. They tend to fight over the oranges.

  7. Laurie Ford says:

    Im from northern Michigan and been seeing them off n on for past month, beautiful arent they? Good luck hope yours stick around!

  8. Shawn says:

    Try placing rocks in it that are big enough to stick out of water a bit, then they can perch anywhere in bath

  9. Laura says:

    Laura
    I live in a very small village in the Eastern Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I saw an Oriole eating at my hummingbird feeder so purchased an orange color Oriole feeder. I have never seen an Oriole here before. They are beautiful! I’ll be putting out oranges today!

  10. JRiley says:

    I have a general question I hope you will answer as I am fairly new to birding (although I am lucky to have lots of birds of all varieties). It has rained here for three and a half days and nights. No matter how much I change the birdseed it still gets all wet and yucky. Is it okay for the birds to eat soggy birdseed or should I stop putting it out till the rain goes away (one of these days, maybe)?

  11. Donica M Robinson says:

    I just started putting feeders out last summer and had no idea that I’d see this beautiful, fluffy orange bird pecking at a suet cake this year. I was even more shocked to see it sucking at the hummingbird feeder this morning. Shy? Not this one. I was out watering my patio veggie garden and the roses I just put in from the nursery and he just looked at me and went back to his business. I will offer mealworms soon, but how do I offer fruit without raccoons taking it as an invitation to raid my feeders (again)? I don’t want to bring fruit flies in the house, so bring piles of fruit in every night isn’t an option.

  12. Sara D. says:

    Hi Helen! I’m in Hanson, Ma….they are just so pretty and surprisingly friendly! Good luck with yours and hope they stay with you, also!!! Stay safe!

  13. HELEN says:

    That’s awesome. We’re in Carver,MA and we started getting them. They love orange halves and grape jelly, I too hope they stay.

  14. Sara D. says:

    Hello, I live about 20 miles south of Boston, Ma and this year, early May, I put out our hummingbird feeders and suddenly I have a lot of Baltimore Orioles in my yard. I’ve never had them here before that I’ve had the luck to see but now, two in particular, a male and female come to my deck all day long, look in my door and squeak until I come out to feed them in the morning. Plus, I whistle back to them and they follow me all around my yard. Especially when I’m working outside in my gardens daily. They hang out with me until late, sometimes 8:00 at night. My husband tells me my buddies are waiting for me every morning. These birds and wildlife is our new additional hobby during our quarantine lockdown here in Mass. I leave out dried mealworms, grape jelly, suet, oranges, apples, homemade nectar, bananas. I hope they stick around with us all season. They seem to be gaining trust with us. Is this normal? Sorry to go on, just a new, exciting, very cool friendship starting! (Plus I’ve been home for the last two months…) Thank you and take care.

  15. Cliff says:

    Red Deer Alberta Canada, our first ever Oriole arrived today and demolished 4 orange halves in a few hours, looks like hes dcided to hang out in an evergreen not far from our feeder. Time to stock up on oranges…

  16. Amy says:

    The last time I saw a baltimore oriole was 30 plus years ago in my neighbor’s backyard in Bel Air!

  17. HELEN says:

    Ours is near the other feeders. They are eating suet and oranges.

  18. HELEN says:

    We are at our campground and the Orioles showed up this week. They have been eating our suet and an orange we put out. Haven’t been drinking much nectar. Good luck

  19. Pat Dolan says:

    I forgot my location: central Pennsylvania at the edge of a smallish town.

  20. Pat Dolan says:

    Last weekend I saw two male Baltimore Orioles checking out the hummingbird feeder. I quickly ordered an oriole feeder with cups and spikes. I arrived today so it’s out for the first time and I’m hoping the bright orange color of the feeder will attract them when they’re flying overhead!

  21. Pamela Jackson says:

    We are blessed with several mulberry trees around our home plus blackberry bushes in and around the woods. They haven’t been seen at the hummingbird feeders. Plus I have a birdbath but we haven’t saw any around it. Our 7yr old granddaughter lives with us and loves seeing all of the different types of birds that the different feeders bring in. We live in Illinois.

  22. Helen says:

    Do Orioles prefer to feed away from other birds or can I hang an oriole feeder amongst my seed feeders.

  23. Chris says:

    Just wondering why jelly and not jam? Thank you!

  24. Holly says:

    Good morning! I live along the front range in Colorado. Have had Bullock Orioles for 10 years. A sure sign of spring for us. They just showed up 2 days ago for the season. Grape jelly seems to be their favorite here. I do have humming bird
    feeders with a flat base on them that I drilled out the holes so they can get to the sugar water. Cheaper than buying special feeders for them. I also use old enamel ware lids retro fitted with chain to hold grape jelly. Works great. The have a natural cup if you hang them upside down.

  25. Rita Brooks says:

    Its May 3, 2020 I live in Bloomfield, NM last year I did not have any Orioles, this morning I woke to the sound of the Beautiful Birds at the Hummingbird feeder. I read what kind of feeders you need to attract Orioles, Thanks I’ll get out quickly for them. Sooo happy to see em again, they are eye candy!!

  26. Gwen Scott says:

    I live in SC and during January and February I had numerous Baltimore Orioles gobbling up my homemade suet.
    Then they suddenly disappeared and I have not seen them since. Hope they return in the fall. Recently rose breasted grosbeaks have been enjoying my suet. Like the orioles they are such beautiful birds.

  27. Gwen Hoffman says:

    Sorry I should have given our location, We are 20 miles south of Boston and have an Audubon sanctuary in our town. It is now 4/19/20 and have just had our first oriole visiting. He was enjoying the jelly a piece of suet in one cup as well as the orange too. He made huge dent in the orange. 🙂

  28. Gwen Hoffman says:

    We had our first experience in April of 2019 with the beautiful Baltimore Orioles. They appeared and were eating the suit at the end of our house feeder with the suit holders on the ends. The next day we fashioned an orange half attached with Velcro tape and chop sticks pushed through the orange halves. I put grape jelly in the center of the orange halves.
    We now have a real feeder with cups for the grape jelly and spikes for the oranges. Not sure I will try the meal worms, but we shall think about it.

  29. Charlie says:

    We live in Middle Georgia and have been feeding a variety of birds under our big oak tree for a couple of years now feeding them sunflower chips, safflower, and suet. Last month, Jan 20th, we spotted an lone male oriole in the feeder eating the sunflower chips. I immediately bought an oriole feeder that has a holder for jelly and two spikes for fruit. The oriole comes everyday and feasts on the sunflower chips, jelly (I use blackberry jam), and oranges. Didn’t know about the mealworms so that’s next. We’re just wondering why we have just the one in the middle of winter.

  30. Mary Beth says:

    Thanks for sharing! I live in Bel Air, MD and was thinking that the unseasonably warm weather may draw them north early. We are enjoying much more activity in our back yard than normal for this time of year. Will put my feeder out now rather than wait a few more weeks.

  31. Faith Rogers says:

    Hi, I don’t normally post anything, but just wanted to say how excited I am to see Baltimore Orioles and they seem to be sticking around it is only early February here and one showed up on Jan 28th since then I have seen another male and possibly a female, hope to keep them coming back!! Oh, forgot to mention we live in Delaware!

  32. gary wellendorf says:

    your advice hasn’t failed me yet. so i’m confident your suggestions will help. I do get orioles off and on but it seems like they only stay for a day or two. I’ll keep you posted keep informing us rookies lol

  33. Jackie says:

    I can’t get orioles to come to my feeder, but every couple of years they will show up and love my bottle brush bushes.

  34. Mara says:

    Mine don’t use the birdbath, but I saw one try today. I think it’s having trouble standing in it, or the depth of the water. Do you have any suggestions?

  35. Mark O'Leary says:

    In past years we would see a few Orioles early in the season, then nothing. (We are on Cape Cod and get many migrating species.) I would always put out oranges and grape jelly, and while they seemed to appreciate it, they never stayed. But this year we’ve had several nesting pairs visit all Summer, and now that the nestlings are able to feed themselves, we are seeing LOTS of orange visitors all day every day. Next year I will set out the feeders a couple of weeks earlier that I have been doing, and I’ll give them meal worms asking with the fruit and jelly.

    Thanks for all the great information!

  36. Mark O'Leary says:

    You can get one of those little cup gizmos that are used for Hummingbird feeder (which have the same problem). Hang the cup from the pole or feeder stand, then hand the Oriole feeder from the cup. Be sure to fill the cup with water. It will act as a moat to keep the ants away. There are several brands available. They are inexpensive and last a long time. Here’s a picture:

    https://www.bestnest.com/bestnest/img_p/STK-38044_400x400.jpg

  37. Julie says:

    How do you keep ants from invading the feeders with all that sugar sround?

  38. Susan says:

    Hi Shannon, I’m wondering if the dark bird is dark gray with a black cap on its head? We have them here, they are catbirds. They come when the orioles come and stay all summer. Funny thing is that the catbirds think the oriole food is for them and they keep a close eye on the food. Luckily they don’t deter the orioles!! We live in NH.

  39. Marcia says:

    Hi. Just wanted to tell you my Orioles have been visiting our hummingbird feeder for years with no problem getting the nectar out. They love the grape jelly and the birdbath. Guess I got lucky. They don’t seem to care for the oranges though 😁

  40. Shannon Smith says:

    My first year attracting Orioles and they have been fun to watch, they love my grape jelly! I have at least a pair, and there is a dark bird enjoying it too! I am in CNY

  41. Linda Bishop says:

    Oriole.

  42. Linda Bishop says:

    I saw my first people today. I didn’t have any food out for it, so do you think it will come back? I will put out some jelly tomorrow.

    • Scott says:

      You’re guess is as good as mine. I have not had many orioles this year but had many last year. You can do everything right but it’s still up to the birds to visit.

  43. Ione says:

    We have had orioles visit our yard for a few years. They are so beautiful. They compete with the humming birds at the feeder.

  44. Sylvie says:

    Orioles have been stopping by our place for a few years now but never stayed but… I think this year they will. I always put sweet water out early for the hummingbirds (and one Oriole feeder) but I guess I was to much at the last minute for jelly and oranges. This year I put the jelly (one side apple and the other side grape) and the orange halves earlier plus a little bit of mealworms even though it’s not the best time yet. we saw 2 Orioles a couple weeks ago (female and male) and now we have 5 (3 males 2 females) and they seem to enjoy everything we are giving them. They event go to the hummingbirds feeders (I took 2 bee guards of to help them but intend to find at least another kind of Oriole feeder as the scare off the hummingbirds). I believe we will have some little ones visiting the feeders later this summer. I will have to get ready with lots of feeders :).

  45. Helen says:

    We put out peanut suet in a mess feeder so to keep the squirrels out. We have a pair coming all day long. Oranges not very interested in.

    • Scott says:

      Hey Helen. I have never had much luck with suet for orioles but MANY people have now told me that it was they enjoy best at their feeders. Planning on updating this post at some point. Thanks for the feedback. 😉

Leave a Reply