Orioles are beautiful birds with bold, contrasting feather colors, usually black and orange. Different species live across most of North America, though they’re very common on the East Coast.
If you want to see more orioles in your own backyard, there are steps you can take to attract them.
To attract orioles to your yard, offer them their favorite foods, such as oranges and nectar. Artificial feeders work well, but you can also plant nectar-rich flowers. Orioles are drawn to the color orange, so filling your yard with that color will be helpful. Finally, provide them with clean water and nesting materials to ensure they visit again and again.
5 Tips To Attract Orioles To Your Yard
Use the following tips to make an oriole-friendly backyard or garden.
1. Set Up A Feeder Early
A key factor to attracting orioles to your yard is offering food. They’ll base their decisions on where to flock on the resources an area provides. So, offering tempting food in feeders will make them more likely to visit.
However, it’s very important to set up your feeder before orioles return to your area. This is because orioles need to know right away where the best spots for food are.
If they return from their migration and don’t see food in your yard, they’re going to move on. And once they find another food source, they won’t have much reason to return to your yard.
So, what kind of feeder should you use? Hummingbird feeders can sometimes work since orioles also enjoy nectar and sugar water.
However, an oriole’s beak is much larger than a hummingbird’s. So, they may not be able to access the food inside those feeders.
Orioles also don’t hover the same way hummingbirds do. Make sure your feeder has a perch for orioles to land on while they eat.
You can even buy oriole-specific feeders, many of which have special spots to put oranges, a favorite treat of orioles. They’re also easier for orioles to reach with their beaks.
2. Offer Nectar, Oranges, And Jelly
Orioles like oranges because of their high sugar content. Orioles migrate thousands of miles each year, and that takes a lot of energy. So, they rely on the energy in oranges and other sugary food to keep them flying.
Orioles are also second only to hummingbirds when it comes to nectar consumption in North America.
You can use store-bought hummingbird nectar for orioles, or you can make your own. Mix together one part white sugar to four parts water and bring to a boil until the sugar dissolves.
Be sure to only use white sugar for homemade nectar; honey can harbor bacteria and other sugars may have additives that can be harmful to birds.
Jelly is another popular sugar source for attracting orioles, but its benefits are controversial. Again, additives to common household foods may be okay for humans, but not for birds.
If you do decide to use jelly, make sure it contains only natural sugar. Smooth grape jelly is one of the most popular forms.
Jelly can also mold very quickly, but this is true of nectar and oranges as well. Only offer enough sweet treats that the orioles can eat quickly. Then the food won’t sit around and grow mold or bacteria.
3. Supply Nesting Materials
All birds need a place to lay their eggs. Orioles build a type of cup nest, but they’re unique because they hang from trees rather than sit between branches.
The female oriole gathers a variety of nesting materials such as long grass, fibers, and twigs. Then, they weave the materials together by poking them together with their beaks.
Eventually, a tangled sort of net forms, to which the female keeps adding to make it sturdy. Finally, the oriole will line the nest with soft fibers or even feathery down to cushion her eggs.
Many orioles prefer deciduous trees for nesting. If you’re in the Midwest, though, you may also see some build nests in low shrubs.
To make your trees or shrubs extra attractive, try providing appropriate nesting materials in your yard. Twiggy bushes, long grass, or even a pile of various fibrous materials can be useful to orioles for nest building.
4. Provide Clean Water
A good water source is just as important to wild birds as food. Not only do birds need something to drink, but they can also use it to wash their beaks and feathers.
A standard stone or concrete bird bath is just fine for an oriole. They can be a little hard to maintain because of their weight, though. You can also use metal or plastic, which may be available in more colors.
Orange is a great color for a bird bath since orioles love that color. But really the most important thing is that it’s easy for you to change the water and clean the basin.
Just like with food, you should check your water source on a regular basis. Make sure it’s clean of debris and that the receptacle itself is clean and free of algae and fecal build-up.
Orioles won’t return to an area that they know isn’t clean or healthy for them.
5. Plant Orange Flowers
Flowers are a great way to provide natural nectar for visiting orioles. Any nectar rich flower will do, such as geraniums.
But a way to boost your number of oriole visitors is to plant orange flowers.
Research suggests that orioles find the color orange attractive. It could be because it’s similar to their own feathers, which they associate with mates of the same species.
It could also be because orioles love eating actual oranges. They may associate the color orange with a delicious treat.
Whatever the reason, a garden full of orange flowers may help attract more orioles to your yard.
Commonly Asked Questions
When Is The Best Time To Attract Orioles?
Orioles are migratory birds, meaning they come and go with the seasons. While they may be a springtime bird for the northern U.S., southern states often see them in fall or winter.
Below is a chart showing the different times of year orioles appear based on general location and species.
|Time of Year
|West Coast to Midwest
|Southwest U.S./Southern California
|Hooded Oriole, Scott's Oriole
|Southern and Southwestern U.S.
|Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole, Bullock's Oriole
|Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole
|Midwest to East Coast
|Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole
|Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Oriole
Times when orioles stop to breed are going to be the best times for attracting them to your yard. You can offer food and water during their migratory periods, but the food will likely take longer to be eaten.
You may have to throw out more food than usual to ensure it doesn’t go moldy. It’s up to you to decide if changing the food frequently is worth it when orioles appear less often.
Do Orioles Eat Seeds?
Orioles don’t typically eat traditional birdseed. They much prefer sweet food like oranges and nectar. They may also eat insects, so go easy on using pesticides in your yard, or forgo them altogether.
Some orioles may eat from suet feeders during breeding season.
Providing suet won’t hurt your chances of seeing an oriole, and it will certainly attract other birds. But your best bet is going to be a nectar feeder along with some oranges and even sweet jelly.
Where Should I Place My Bird Feeder?
Although orioles do like to perch and nest in trees, they’re going to be looking for food while flying around. They need to be able to see the food you’re offering without having to stop and search.
Place your bird feeders out in the open, like in the middle of your yard or on a porch railing. This will ensure that orioles know at a glance that your yard is a good food source.
Orioles are a great addition to any backyard or garden. They’re also common throughout the U.S., so seeing one isn’t that hard if you know when to look.
But seeing one as it passes just isn’t the same as having one purposefully visit you. If you want to attract more orioles to your yard, there are just a few simple things you can do.
First, provide clean water and nesting materials, if orioles breed in your area. Then, offer nectar feeders, orange slices, and even jelly. Orioles love sweet food, so providing a good source of each of these is a great way to attract them.
You can also plant vibrant orange flowers since orioles like the color orange. Planting flowers also offers a natural nectar source for them.
Use these tips and you’ll have orioles in your yard in no time.