Top Tips for Attracting Orioles to Your Yard

Jill Staake

Among the most sought-after backyard birds, Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, and Bullock’s Orioles boast bright orange and black coloration and build interesting gourd-shaped nests at the end of tree branches. Some folks seem to have plenty of luck bringing these birds to their backyard feeders, while others struggle year after year to bring these elusive flyers in. This spring, why not try some of these oriole-attracting tips, and then drop by the comments below to share your own!

Get Grape Jelly. The number one food most backyard birders swear by is this sweet treat. Birds & Blooms reader LuAnn Crim says, “You can feed them cheap grape jelly in small tuna-sized cans or Miracle Whip lids. Just fasten the container DOWN, or they’ll knock it right to the ground.”

  • EXPERT TIP: You can mix the grape jelly with water to make it stretch a bit farther, according to the folks at Journey North. Combine one part grape jelly to one part water in your blender and mix until it has the consistency of thick juice.

Orioles Like Orange… and Oranges. Most oriole feeders include a way to offer oranges to orioles. Some people find that orioles don’t feed from them, but most have observed that at least having the color orange on your feeder will help to attract them. Reader Diane B notes, “Make sure your feeder has an orange color on it. I usually make sure the roof is orange so they see it as they fly over.”

  • EXPERT TIP: Set orange halves in a shallow dish of water to discourage ants. Change out your orange halves every day. They dry out quickly and can grow mold, which is harmful to birds.

Use Nectar Feeders With Perches. Orioles also like the same sugar water your hummingbirds do, but they lack the ability to hover around the feeders. When they try to use one, they may wind up knocking the feeder to the ground and spilling the nectar everywhere. Offer a nectar feeder with built-in perches so orioles have a place to land and drink.
  • EXPERT TIP: You can buy nectar feeders made just for orioles, usually orange in color, but as long as your hummingbird feeder offers perches around the edge, there’s no need for separate feeders unless one species starts chasing off the other.
 Start Early and Don’t Give Up. Experts and amateurs alike note that it’s vital to have your oriole feeders out at least several weeks before you expect orioles in your area. If the birds don’t spot the feeders as soon as they arrive in the spring, they’re unlikely to start using them later.

Switch to Mealworms in Summer. Orioles love sweet sugary treats in spring, as they finish their long migrations. Jelly and fruit are high-energy foods that give the, the boost they need to sustain their travels. Once nesting season begins, they change their food source to insects, which provide more protein and nutritional value. You can continue bringing orioles to your yard by offering mealworms during the summer; they may also visit suet feeders at this time.

  • EXPERT TIP: Use your oriole feeder’s grape jelly dish to offer mealworms once nesting season begins.

Plant Trees. Orioles build basket-shaped nests at the very tips of long slim tree branches, where crows and other predators will have difficulty getting a foot-hold. Journey North notes that their favorite nesting trees historically have been American Elms, which in many areas have now been decimated by Dutch Elm Disease. They also like maples and cottonwoods, so consider adding one of these to your yard if you have the space. Reader Julie Higgins had an oriole nest in a pecan tree!

Now it’s your turn! Share your tips for attracting orioles in the comments below, and help Birds & Blooms readers create the most oriole-filled yards around!

    • Ruth Mitchell says

      I use a larger orange plate to put under my orange bowl and I fill the plate with water…acts as a buffer to the ants and the Orioles often drink the water too!!! I am currently going through at least half a jar of grape jelly a day for my little orange wonders!!

  1. Myron Ridgeway says

    I have had orlikes for the past 5 years now. I think that they are the same ones, because if I don’t have the feeder up they land on the window sill and peck on the window to let me know that they are back. That’s when I get both feeders out and fill them wilh grape jelly. I have put oranges on them, but they don’t seem to want them so I use only grape jelly now. I go through one jar of jelly a week so we try to buy it when it is on sale.

    Good luck on getting them, but once you do you’ll have them every year so long as you feed them.

    • Ruth Mitchell says

      I get my grape jelly at Aldi’s …just as good but MUCH cheaper than you can find in a grocery store!!!

  2. Ila Gallagher says

    I moved to Cedar Lake, Indiana after living in Illinois, and I wanted to attract Baltimore Orioles. I put orange ribbon on my bird feeders, and set out the grape jelly in an orange colored jelly feeder. It took me over one year to attract the orioles, but the ribbon, jelly and an oriole feeder and did the trick. Each year I have a large population of orioles, and it is fun watching them eat the grape jelly. I buy jelly in the winter when I see it on sale so I will be stocked up for the summer.

    Ila Gallagher

    • Lisa Stokes says

      Thank-You What a great idea! I have sooo many mature trees in my back and front yard (birch, maple,oak and some conifers etc…so I was wondering HOW I was going to attract them! That’s a WONDERFUL IDEA-thanx again! As you probably guessed, I am a beginner at this-like 2 weeks now..we just moved here in Sydney Nova Scotia Canada and I felt so sorry for my feathered friends searching for food in the deep snow that I just started making my own suet last week, now I am up to tripling my recipe and they are eating it like crazy!
      If you have any other tips or some other kinds of birds you feed, I’d love to hear from you!

      Beat regards,
      Lisa

  3. Ronni says

    I buy the grape jelly at the dollar stores or on sale at regular grocery stores. They go through it fast! They love the oranges too. They are so pretty to watch. Other birds occasionally sneak in for a snack too and i notice they like the Hummingbird’s nectar too! One year I had a large terra cotta saucer that I painted bright orange – it was heavy so I just put it on the bench in back where our pond is – it worked! They are attracted to that bright orange.

  4. Loretta says

    For years I have always hang 12″ white Bedspread Weight Chrochet Thread on the bare braches of the bush near my window for the Baltimore Orioles to build their nests. It’s a joy and fun to watch the female pluck the threads from the bush while the male stunchly guards her from a nearby perch or feeder ready to chase away any other pair that shows up. When she has gathered all she can she flies off and he follows her.

    This thread is very inexpensive and I buy it in the 1000 yard supervalue size and it will last several years depending how many pairs show up. In my area I start in early May when the braches are just starting to bud. I usually have to put out 50-75 lengths every day until they finished their nest.

  5. Cindie Mead says

    They seem to like the covered feeders too I have one that is just wood. No paint two shingles and a board across between them with a hole drilled large enough to hold a Yankee candle lid. It also had nails the wedges between the shingles on the side for oranges but they never really ate those until I changed to little dishes of Mandarin oranges. I also put out the large bright orange nectar feeders too. I find they will stand on the flower part of my humming bird feeders and drink upside down! fun to watch. I also have a orange feeder with clear roof that holds two cups so use one for the Mandarin oranges and grape jelly. I have been blessed with many different kinds of Oriels and many pair over the last 7 years since I moved to town. NEVER could get one to visit the 17 years I lived 1 mile away in the country! I like the idea of the water with grape jelly …. might try it but would hate to loose them.

  6. Cindie Mead says

    They seem to like the covered feeders too I have one that is just wood. No paint two shingles and a board across between them with a hole drilled large enough to hold a Yankee candle lid. It also had nails the wedges between the shingles on the side for oranges but they never really ate those until I changed to little dishes of Mandarin oranges. I also put out the large bright orange nectar feeders too. I find they will stand on the flower part of my humming bird feeders and drink upside down! fun to watch. I also have a orange feeder with clear roof that holds two cups so use one for the Mandarin oranges and grape jelly. I have been blessed with many different kinds of Oriels and many pair over the last 7 years since I moved to town. NEVER could get one to visit the 17 years I lived 1 mile away in the country! I like the idea of the water with grape jelly …. might try it but would hate to loose them.

    Reply

  7. ihavenJenny says

    my orioles won’t use the orange feeder, they will only feed from the red hummingbird feeder. i have not tried jelly yet but do plan on doing so this year. i may even try the yucky meal worms

  8. Bob Check says

    I’ve been feeding orioles for about 10 yrs. Started with one pair & now usually have at least 6 – 8 pairs. I also believe they return from previous years. I started making my own feeders about 8 yrs ago. I used 12″ dia. ckt boards but wood will also work. I attach 2 tuna fish or cat food cans on top (also put drain holes in lower part of can in case it rains). I also attach a can about 8″ below the wood using 3 separate chains (this keeps the jelly dry during a rain spell).

  9. Joan Hansen says

    I have tried several times to print this article, but each time, page 1 does not print. Do you have any suggestions for printing this page?

    Thank you.

    • Gail Harless says

      If you know how to copy/paste, you can drag your mouse over the text, press control-c or however you usually indicate you want to copy something, then paste it into a Word document.

      Hope that helps! I do this all the time with web pages.

    • Gail Harless says

      If you know how to copy/paste, you can drag your mouse over the text, press control-c or however you usually indicate you want to copy something, then paste it into a Word document.

      Hope that helps! I do this all the time with web pages.

  10. says

    Yesterday, March 24th, had my first male oriole appear in the yard. They first show up at my hummingbird feeder.
    Today, have two more males. This is about the 4th or 5th year I have had them. They make their nests here either
    in the tall skinny cottonwoods or the really old tall pine trees in my yard. They are truly one of my favorites to
    have visit. Made a grape jelly feeder out of a plastic quart bottle. It hangs from the tree branch. Cut out openings on either
    side at the bottom and slid a dowell through the so they can perch and eat. It works great and didn’t cost anything!

  11. Lisa Stokes says

    I just moved to Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada. I am a NEW bird watcher, feeder, but always have been a bird lover of all kinds. I have many very mature trees in my back and front yard-like birch, oak, maple, conifers and some I have no idea but they are between 70 and 100 year old trees so in the morning my back yard faces East so I hardly have any sun. I REALLY want to build bird “homes”, feeders and attract all kinds of lovely birds and humming birds. Any suggestions? I make my own suet as of last week and they’ve gone through 3 -3lb onion mesh bags so far, but I only attract 2 blue jays (that is a rare sight) and LOTS of STARLINGS!!! All through the day. Do you think they are bullying or scarring off the other birds? We are only at the end of March and there is still at least a foot of snow on the so is this the only type of birds besides crows, pigeons and seagulls that I can expect this time of year? When should I put out the ‘prettier oriole and humming bird feeders? How can I attract more songbirds and colorful ones? HELP PLEASE!
    THANS to all who answer me!
    BEST Regards,
    From a VERY NEW and very “Green” bird Lover!

  12. Darlene says

    I live in Canada Southern Ontario. I have never seen Orioles in our area. Do you know if they frequent this area?

    Thank you

  13. Melissa says

    Hello,
    I heard that Orioles are top of the tree sitters. So I have read that you need to put the feeders out in the open where they can see them from the tree tops. That is also why it’s hard to see them when you can hear them.
    I have not given up. we get one or two that pass by, so this is my quest to get them to stay.
    I have my feeder ready and I have a big bag of meely worms so we’ll see how I do this year.
    Happy Birding,
    melissa

    • Myron says

      My orioles start showing up on May 1 st the last couple of years now. I 6 of them as of date May 19 th, I use grape jelly only and have an orange feeder that hangs next to the window of my sun room. They are about 12 inches from the window and I can sit in my living room and look out into the family room and see them. Love to listen to them sing, Each year I keep getting more and more. It is fun to watch them train the young to eat from the feeder.

  14. Jan says

    I live in the central western part of Florida. Does anyone know when or if Orioles will visit there and when should I put jelly out. Also I make my own jellies would they eat it?

  15. harold wagoner says

    since orielos weave a nest, I cut binder twine into 12″length,soak in hot water the pull individual strands out & lay them across shrubs in yard. orielos take them,but as fast as they disipear,other birds must be using also. twine is hemp or sisal,not the plastic type.

  16. Ann D. says

    I had two orioles appear suddenly at my humming bird feeder today. I had never seen one here in my 6 years of feeding the birds. Of course – no grape jelly in the house. Will they come back to look again!!! In other words shall I run to the store and get jelly and fashion or buy a feeder.
    I am very excited to say the least!

  17. brian says

    I didn’t have oranges in the house so I tried grapefruit and four days later orieoles have appeared. They seem to love grapefruit.

  18. Susan Carpenter says

    I noticed Orioles early sprain when’s Magnolia tree blossomed. They were in there as soon as some of the blossoms opened sipping nectar.

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