Wild Bird Articles

Tips for Attracting Orioles

While over eight species of Orioles can regularly be seen in the United States, we'll deal mainly with three species: Baltimore, Bullocks, and Orchard. 

Except for in the Southeast, all Orioles are tropical migrants. While migrations vary from year-to-year, Orioles generally arrive in the South in early spring, Midwest in early May, and further North soon afterward. It is very important that you have Oriole feeders up and ready, or often they will pass you by for better feeding grounds. It is equally important to have nesting materials out and ready to help encourage Orioles to nest in your yard.

Nesting

Where nesting material is available, Orioles will defend an area of several acres and start building a pendulous nest. You can help encourage them by offering long strips of commercial nesting material, twine or even horse's hair.

Orioles make a pendulous nest with the females normally taking 5-8 days to do all the weaving. The male defends their territory and occasionally checks out the construction of the nest, but offers little help or expertise. The nest may be as much as 8 inches in length, and is often supported from the tips of branches that hang out over open areas such as rivers or roads. The female will lay 4-5 pale gray to bluish eggs, which she alone will incubate until they hatch in 12-14 days. By summer's end, all will have departed for a warm winter stay in tropical warmer climates.

Feeding Orioles

Orioles migrate at night so they are tired, cold, and hungry when they arrive in your yard. If you wait until you see them, you are "too late" to attract maximum numbers of Orioles to your yard. Oranges are one of the keys to attracting Orioles. Cut oranges in half and provide them "juicy side out."

You can also attract Orioles up close by offering Oriole nectar, jelly, and fruit on feeders by the house and patio. People often mix their own nectar from sugar, although we feel that the commercial Oriole nectars we offer attract and hold more Orioles at the feeder longer. We recommend using BirdBerry™ jelly to feed your Orioles. It's a combination of all natural grape and blackberry jellies that has proven to attract more birds and is lower in sugar than store brand jelly. That and the fact BirdBerry™ contains no corn sweetener or artificial ingredients and is higher in fruit and fruit juice. Many people feed jelly year-around, not only Orioles, but Woodpeckers, Robins, Warblers, and others enjoy it.

If you're worried about ants bothering your jelly or Oriole nectar, simply hang a clear or orange Nectar Protector Ant Moat above them and fill it with water. This acts like a moat around a castle (ants can't swim) and for just a few bucks you never have to mess with cleaning them out of the feeder!

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