Top Tips for Attracting Orioles to Your Yard

Among the most sought-after backyard birds, Baltimore Orioles, Orchard Orioles, and Bullock’s Orioles boast bright orange and black coloration and

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!

Jill Staake
Jill lives in Tampa, Florida, and writes about gardening, butterflies, outdoor projects and birding. When she's not gardening, you'll find her reading, traveling and happily digging her toes into the sand on the beach.