Are you looking for a proven oriole nectar recipe?
If so, you have come to the right place. Along with millions of other enthusiasts, I use the following recipe to attract lots of orioles every summer. And make sure you keep reading (or CLICK HERE) to see answers to EIGHT commonly asked questions regarding homemade oriole food.
Here is the SIMPLE Oriole Nectar Recipe You Should Use:
- The whole process takes less than 5 minutes, and that includes cleanup!
Ingredients and Materials:
- White table sugar – The kind you use in your kitchen for baking
- Hot water -I use tap water from my sink. But if your local water supply is tainted with heavy metals, I recommend using filtered water.
- In a mixing bowl or glass, combine 1 cup sugar with 4 cups hot water. The ratio for oriole nectar is 1 part sugar to 4 parts water, so if this recipe makes too much or not enough for your specific food needs, it’s easy to adjust accordingly.
- Mix the sugar and water until the sugar has dissolved. Making sure the water is hot will help dissolve the sugar.
- You have oriole nectar! I would let the mixture cool to room temperature before filling your feeders. You can store leftovers in the refrigerator for up to two weeks.
To see this recipe in action, watch this video of orioles discovering a nectar feeder!
8 COMMON Questions About This Nectar Recipe
#1. Do I REALLY just use regular table sugar and water?
Yes! It is that easy! And here’s why:
Natural nectar found in flowers is mostly a sucrose solution. Luckily, white sugar is also made of sucrose, so it closely resembles natural nectar in flowers when mixed with the appropriate amount of water.
- RELATED: 5 SIMPLE Strategies That Attract Orioles! (Updated Tips)
Don’t try to get fancy and use honey, brown sugar, or an artificial sweetener in your recipe. These won’t work, nor will these ingredients be good for orioles! Instead, please stick to plain white sugar.
And if you’re wondering, making hummingbird nectar is the EXACT same recipe as making it for orioles!
#2. Should I boil the water?
Whether you should boil the water when making your homemade oriole nectar is debatable. Some enthusiasts recommend boiling the water to remove impurities (bacteria, fungus) and help the nectar last longer.
But nature is not a clean place and is full of bacteria. So as soon as the first oriole sticks its tongue in the feeder, they have introduced bacteria, negating the point of boiling the water.
Personally, I don’t boil the water when I make my oriole food.
I use hot water that comes out of my sink. The only reason I use hot water instead of cold is to help the sugar dissolve more quickly.
But no harm is done by boiling the water. If it makes you feel better, then please boil away! 🙂
#3. Should I add orange dye to the nectar?
Orioles are attracted to the color orange, so many people wonder if adding orange dye to the nectar will help attract more orioles. It’s a great question and has a simple answer.
- Related: 8 Orioles That Live in the United States and Canada! (w/ Range Maps)
Don’t add orange dye to your oriole food!
The effects of consuming red and orange dyes are unclear, and studies have shown potential health consequences for orioles. And putting orange dye in nectar is unnecessary to attract orioles. Just make sure that the nectar feeder you purchase has an orange top or base.
#4. Does pre-made nectar bought in stores work better?
For example, here is a list of ingredients for Kaytee’s “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar, a popular pre-made nectar solution that I have purchased.
The “Ready To Use” ElectroNectar has almost the same ratio of sugar (Sucrose – 20%) to water (Moisture – 80%) that is recommended in the oriole recipe above.
For the record, it’s okay if you want to buy pre-made nectar. Just make sure you don’t buy pre-made nectar because you think it’s superior to the oriole food you can make in your own home.
#5. How long does homemade oriole food last?
As a general rule, the hotter the weather, the quicker the nectar will ferment and spoil. However, your nectar’s freshness depends on the weather, humidity, and if your oriole feeder hangs in the shade or sun.
Below are some general guidelines for how long your nectar will last, but it’s impossible to predict because of the variables. No matter what, I wouldn’t let your nectar sit for more than a week outside, even if it is cool and in the shade. If the nectar starts looking cloudy or has anything gross floating around, it’s spoiled, and it’s time to change and clean your feeder!
- Cooler weather or in the shade: 4-7 days
- Hot weather or in the sun: 2-3 days
- Extra nectar kept in the refrigerator: up to 2 weeks
Don’t let your nectar spoil, rot, or become moldy! Old and gross food discourages the orioles you worked hard to attract from visiting again. The birds will quickly move to other food sources, potentially negating months of hard work and patience. Once you have earned their trust, you will need to work hard to keep it!
- RELATED: Ultimate Guide to Cleaning Hummingbird Feeders! (Oriole feeders too!)
#6. Can I use honey in the nectar recipe?
No. Adding honey to this nectar recipe will not help and can be dangerous to orioles. When honey mixes with water, it ferments rapidly, spoils the nectar, and creates an environment that lets bacteria and fungus thrive.
And if you’re still not convinced, think about this fact:
Orioles don’t eat honey naturally!
Have you ever heard of an oriole raiding a honey bee nest? Honeybees are not even native to North America, so at no point in history did orioles evolve to eat honey or have access to the stuff except for the last few hundred years.
Just stick to the simple nectar recipe for 1 part white sugar and 4 parts water. It’s human nature to try and improve everything, but this is an example where more intervention harms orioles.
#7. Is nectar the only food that orioles eat?
I asked this question the first time I made nectar at home and realized that oriole nectar is basically a fancy name for sugar water! There had to be something of substance they also ate to supplement their diet?
Upon more research, I learned that orioles get their protein by feasting on fruit, insects, and other invertebrates. In fact, soon after they migrate north, they stop eating nectar and switch to exclusively eating bugs!
- RELATED: Fun Facts About Orioles
So to attract as many orioles as possible, I don’t use any insecticides in my yard. I want there to be plenty of bugs for them to eat.
In addition to nectar and bugs, orioles love oranges and grape jelly! There are even special oriole feeders designed specifically to feed these two sweet treats, like this Ultimate Oriole Buffet.
#8. What if I make a more concentrated sugar solution?
You might be thinking that if orioles love a nectar solution that contains 1 part sugar to every 4 parts water, they will go crazy over a recipe that doubles the amount of sugar!
Unfortunately, adding more sugar won’t help! If the nectar becomes too sweet or concentrated, it won’t resemble what orioles find in flowers naturally and can be difficult for them to digest.
As tempting as it can be to add more sugar, stick to the tried and true oriole food recipe found above.
What other questions do you have about making oriole nectar?
Please ask below so we can all help each other.