Seeing orioles at my backyard bird feeders is always exciting. Not only are these birds beautiful with their striking orange plumage, but seeing them is a sure sign that Summer is just around the corner, as most orioles arrive back to their northern breeding range sometime in May.
But attracting orioles to your bird feeders presents challenges because they have an entirely different diet than most other feeder birds.
You need a specialized oriole feeder to see these stunning birds!
Instead of eating sunflower, peanuts, safflower, or corn like many other species, orioles have a unique diet and will only visit feeders that offer mealworms, fruit (such as oranges), jelly, or nectar.
And in the wild, an orioles diet changes throughout the season. So to continually keep these birds at your feeders, you will need to change the food offered throughout the summer. Here is a general guideline:
Spring and Fall:
Feed foods high in sugar, such as ripe fruits, jelly, and nectar. The sugar is converted into energy needed for migration. The best fruits to use at oriole feeders are orange halves and grapes.
Most of an orioles diet consists of insects during the summer months. The additional protein is needed while they are breeding and raising their young. Try offering dried mealworms in any of the feeders below that offer a jelly tray or cup. I would also keep feeding fruits, nectar, and jelly until they stop eating these foods.
Depending on the time of the year, you can watch my oriole feeders below on my LIVE bird feeder cam:
I have the most luck attracting birds to my oriole feeders in the spring as they arrive back from their migration.
But just as I am getting used to the daily show of orioles, it seems like their diet switches without warning, and they quit coming to the food 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. Try offering dried mealworms in any of the feeders below that offer a jelly tray or cup.
Recommended Oriole Feeders (8 Total)
This feeder was designed to offer THREE delicious oriole foods at once! Nectar, jelly, and oranges!
- First, there is a clear plastic dish that holds nectar. Orioles access the sugar water by landing on the perches and sticking their beaks through the four holes in the orange lid.
- Next, there are four cupped sections on the orange lid where jelly or orange slices can be placed.
- Finally, the metal hook that screws into the plastic dish can be used to skewer oranges (not pictured in the above video).
The look of this feeder reminds me of a dish hummingbird feeder, just with the added benefit of having spots for jelly and oranges. For the record, hummingbirds will also visit oriole feeders like this one for the nectar. 🙂
If you decide to put out nectar for orioles (or hummingbirds), please make sure you are committed to cleaning your nectar feeders consistently. Sugar water spoils rather quickly, and if a bird drinks rotten nectar, then it can cause issues.
Lastly, this oriole feeder is made of durable polycarbonate plastic, has a built-in ant guard for the nectar, and is simple to take apart to clean. The top lid is also the color of orange, which is vital because orioles are naturally attracted to anything orange. You will notice most other feeders on this list incorporate orange too.
I love the simple look and design of this oriole feeder.
First, the feeder has two aluminum stakes that point up from the landing platform, which are designed to be used with orange halves, so the fruit stays in one place as the orioles feed.
Second, two small jars fit onto the platform. To feed orioles, you would want to fill these jars with either jelly, grapes, or mealworms, depending on what your local birds are eating. I like that you could even split up what you put in each jar (jelly in one, mealworms in the other) to offer a wide variety of choices.
The 14-inch metal roof also provides some protection from the weather for the food below.
Lastly, the large platform (12 inches in diameter) also gives adequate space for many birds to land and eat.
Similar to the Kettle Moraine option (#2) above, this feeder has two stakes for oranges and two clear glass jars for jelly/mealworms.
Birds Choice used bright orange recycled plastic for the construction material, which is incredibly durable. I’m always happy when any of my feeders are made from recycled plastic. And remember that the color orange helps attract orioles!
There is a useful, clear acrylic top which helps keep the food sheltered while still providing visibility.
Lastly, this feeder is easy to clean, which is one of my favorite features of any bird feeders. Usually, the only thing that gets dirty is the glass cups, and they come out easily.
This bright orange oriole feeder only feeds oranges. You can see that it holds an orange half on each side on the permanently mounted aluminum fruit stakes.
I think this is a great specialized feeder to keep around for orioles. The aluminum perch provides a comfortable spot for birds to land and eat their fruit.
The feeder is small and light, so it won’t take up much room, both while it is being stored and hanging in your backyard!
Just remember that orioles typically will only eat oranges in the spring and fall. During the summer their diet switches to insects that provide protein for breeding and raising their young.
You are looking at my favorite overall bird feeder. I love its versatility and simplicity and so do the birds. Every day I can mix whatever that I want to offer and see what birds visit! As for feeding orioles, it easily holds their favorite foods.
Orange halves? No problem, toss them on the tray along with some grapes.
Mealworms? Absolutely. Even if you choose living mealworms instead of freeze-dried, they won’t be able to crawl up the smooth wooden sides.
I would not put jelly directly onto the tray because it would make a mess, but you could easily place some in a small glass dish and set on top.
This tray feeder is wonderful and I use it every single day in my backyard. It can also be hung, mounted to a post, or sit directly on the ground since it includes fold-out legs.
- RELATED: Watch my ground tray feeders for squirrels, skunks, foxes, and birds. (Includes night vision)
If you are looking for a simple and inexpensive way to offer fruit, mealworms, and jelly for orioles, this feeder is perfect.
As you can see above, it’s a small, blue plastic dish that is easily hung almost anywhere.
I have used this feeder for a variety of different foods. To specifically attract orioles, I would try putting jelly or mealworms inside, depending on the time of year.
Or If you needed to put an orange half in a secure place, this feeder would also get the job done.
I use this small feeder a lot to experiment. It allows me to isolate specific foods to see which birds are enjoying and eating them.
7. Nail & Hammer
Yep. That’s all you need to feed orioles in your backyard. Well, and half an orange. (For the record, that is NOT me in the above picture!)
Take your nail, hammer, and orange slice and find a spot in your backyard. Then hammer the nail through the orange and into the tree. I would only put about half the nail into the tree; you want it sticking out enough so you can keep hanging fresh oranges.
Please don’t blame me if soon all the trees in your backyard have an orange nailed to it. 🙂
8. Suet Cage
If you’re looking for a way to feed orioles, but don’t want to buy another bird feeder, then you can usually repurpose your suet feeders during the summer months, which works out exceptionally well because many people quit using suet in the summer because it gets so gooey, sticky, and slimy.
So instead of putting away a suet cage or basket for the summer, fill it with orange slices. The orioles should love having a separate place to feed, and you may even be able to spot a woodpecker dining on an orange.
Here are two suet feeders that I own and recommend, but any of them will work as long as it can hold orange slices.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many different oriole species can I see?
The answer to this question depends on where you live in North America.
- Baltimore Oriole: Summer range is most of the USA and southern Canada east of the Rocky Mountains. They spend winters in Florida and Central America. Most common species observed!
- 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.
- Hooded Oriole: This species can only be seen on the west coast of California and southern Arizona during summer.
- Scott’s Oriole: Arizona and parts of New Mexico and Utah are the only places this species can be seen in the summer.
When should I put my oriole feeders out?
It depends on where you live in North America and when your specific oriole species will be passing through or arrive back from migration. This is typically going to be in late April or early May. Orioles usually begin their journey back south sometime in September.
How to make nectar?
Making homemade nectar is simple. Just mix 1 part sugar with 4 parts water. You can use this same recipe for hummingbird nectar. Just remember to keep your nectar feeders CLEAN!
How can I attract orioles to my backyard?
Great question! To read my complete guide, check out the following article:
- 4 Simple Strategies To Attract Orioles (Coming Soon!)
Final Thoughts and Conclusion
Selecting the best bird feeders for orioles can be challenging because of the unique foods that these birds consume.
Remember that if you want to attract orioles to your bird feeding station, then you are going to need to rely on the following foods:
- Oranges and grapes
- Jelly: Grape seems to work the best
- Mealworms: Freeze-dried or live.
It’s also important to be incredibly flexible with the above foods once orioles arrive back from their winter migration. Typically, they will prefer eating foods with high sugar content, such as fruit and nectar, in the spring and fall. This is because they need additional energy for migration.
Once orioles settle into their breeding territory for the summer and start the process of reproducing and raising their young, they begin to favor insects due to the additional protein offered.
My last tip is don’t get discouraged!
It took two years of setting out oranges before I started to get orioles to visit my feeders regularly. But trust me, all the effort is worth it once you get to see these beautiful orange birds in your backyard!