As winter turns into spring, there is really only one thing on my mind.
When will orioles make their return to Iowa?!
Seriously, I am counting down the days until I can put out fresh oranges, grape jelly, and nectar in my oriole feeders again!
First, let me give you my disclaimer that there isn’t a specific date every year that Baltimore and Orchard Orioles arrive in Iowa from their long migration northward. The exact dates change every year depending on certain environmental factors, such as weather and food availability.
Baltimore Orioles spend the winter in warm climates, such as Central America, northern South America, and some individuals even choose to stay in Florida. Depending on their exact wintering location, they start migrating north to their breeding grounds sometime in April. Mid-April to mid-May is the peak of oriole migration!
With that being said, they do tend to get back around the same time every year.
In Iowa, I would start looking for the orioles to return in early May.
And to be prepared, I would put out your oriole feeders on May 1st!
Putting out oranges, grape jelly, and nectar in your oriole feeders on May 1st might seem a bit early, but you want to make sure you are ready for the first arrivals. Remember that these birds have just migrated a LONG distance and will be extremely hungry and tired. In addition, there are not many flowers blooming, ripened fruit, or bugs flying around yet for them to eat and reload their energy reserves.
Setting out food for orioles will provide a valuable meal for them. Don’t worry if you are a bit early, as it doesn’t hurt anything to put your oriole feeders out before any birds have arrived.
Interestingly, you can also TRACK orioles on their way back to Iowa!
You can use EBIRD to follow the northward migration of orioles to see if they have been spotted in Iowa yet.
If you haven’t heard of it, eBird is a database where people upload their bird observations. The great part about it is you can use this data to determine when it’s time to put up your oriole feeders in Iowa.
- RELATED: Check out the LIVE bird cameras in my backyard! (You may see an oriole right now)
If you want to learn how to use eBird to do this, please watch the video below! (In the video, I am demonstrating how to follow hummingbirds, but the same concept applies to orioles. 🙂 )
When do you put your oriole feeders back up in Iowa?
Please leave a comment below.
Make sure to mention WHERE you live!
Thanks for reading. 🙂