Attracting Baltimore and Orchard Orioles to Your Home
“A bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song.” ― Maya Angelou
Orioles are a favorite among many birders. They are stunning birds that are common throughout the United States. Catching a glimpse of one during the migration can be exciting. So, what can you do to get them to stop in your yard? Attracting Orioles is easier than you may think. By choosing the right foods and the right feeders, you can enjoy these beautiful birds at your home.
Orioles Found in Ohio
The Baltimore Oriole is the most common oriole found in Ohio. The mature males are bright orange with black heads, and black and white wings. The females and immatures can vary in color. The orange is not as vibrant, and their heads can range any from yellow to dark brown.
The Orchard Oriole looks similar to the Baltimore Oriole. However, it is smaller, and the colors are not as vibrant. The mature males have more of a dark chestnut color instead of bright orange. The females and immatures are more yellow. The immature males also have a black throat patch.
When Can You Find Orioles in Ohio?
Orioles are migratory birds and only stay for a short while. They usually begin to arrive in late April throughout May. They mate and build nests right away. Once the babies become independent, the parents begin to molt. Shortly after they will begin to migrate.
Baltimore Orioles can begin leave as early as July. Migration usually lasts through September. Peak migration is in August.
Orchard Orioles have the shortest breeding season. They often head south in early to mid-July. They can be at their wintering grounds by mid to late-July.
Baltimore Orioles winter in Florida, Central America and the northern part of South America. The Orchard Oriole winters in Mexico and northern South America.
Breeding Habitats that the Baltimore and Orchard Orioles Prefer
Baltimore Orioles often build their nests high deciduous trees. They choose trees that are near forest edges, open woodlands and riverbanks. Since they prefer open areas, they have adapted to living around humans. They can often be spotted in parks, backyards and orchards.
Orchard Orioles also prefer to live by open woodlands. Unlike the Baltimore Oriole, Orchard Orioles often nest in open habitats with scattered shade trees.
Attracting Orioles with Food
Oranges & Other Fruits
Both types of Orioles eat fruit. Baltimore Orioles eat more of it than Orchard Orioles. Many people only put out oranges for orioles. However, they enjoy a wide variety of fruit. While putting out oranges is an attractant because of the color, you can also provide grapes, berries, cherries and bananas.
The sugar in fruit is converted into energy. This energy is needed the most during spring and fall. During the summer months, Orioles won’t dine on as much fruit. They prefer insects that provide the protein that they need to raise their babies.
Orioles can often be seen trying to get the nectar out of hummingbird feeders. The sugar gives them an energy burst. But hummingbird feeders are not designed for Oriole beaks. When providing nectar use a feeder specially designed for Orioles.
Just as with hummingbirds, don’t use nectar that has colored dye. Dye is harmful to birds. Instead, use a feeder that has color. Buy a red feeder for hummingbirds and an orange feeder for orioles.
Making your own nectar is easy. It is also cheaper and safer. It is a simple mix of 1-part real sugar to 4-parts water. Boil the mixture long enough to dissolve the sugar.
Only use bottled or well water. Never use water that has been treated. Fluoride and chlorine can be harmful to birds. Water that is high in iron is also harmful. So, if your water is discolored it is not safe to drink.
Change the nectar regularly. Usually about once a week. Mold and bacteria can grow on the feeder and in the nectar. Give the feeder a thorough cleaning.
Grape jelly is a favorite of Orioles as well as many other birds. It is a great way to attract Orioles to your yard.
When providing jelly for birds make sure that you only use an all-natural, low sugar variety. Additives and preservatives can be harmful. Only provide small amounts at a time so that the birds will also forage for insects.
Mealworms are a great way to provide protein. You can purchase them dead or alive. They also attract many other species of birds such as Eastern Bluebirds.
Water is a necessity for all birds. They need it to drink and bathe. Orioles are attracted to the sound of moving water. So, instead of a common lifeless birdbath install a fountain or use a dripper.
When providing water, it is important that it is changed regularly. This should occur every couple of days. Water quickly becomes dirty and grows algae. Birds need clean fresh water to be healthy. When cleaning your birdbath, do not use harmful chemicals. Use watered down vinegar and a scrub brush. Make sure to rinse the bath to remove any residue.
Choosing a Feeder for Orioles
When purchasing bird feeders, the selections can be overwhelming. For Orioles, there are a few main things to consider.
Choose a feeder that is orange. Orioles are naturally attracted to the color orange.
Make sure it is easy to clean. Many nectar feeders have small neck holes. This makes it almost impossible to get the inside clean.
Choose a feeder that has a place to attach oranges. Some nectar feeders have this option. I find it better to use two separate feeders. One for fruit, jelly and mealworms. And one for nectar.
Orioles need a place to perch. So, make sure that they can reach their food easily.
Use feeders with removable dishes. Dishes provide a place to put fruit, jelly and mealworms. Being removable allows you to bring them inside and give them a good cleaning.
Additional Tips for Attracting Orioles
Put their food out early. You want them to see your feeders and stop.
Orioles are attracted to the color orange. Make sure that the color is visible as they are flying over. Do not hide them under porches or trees.
Place oriole feeders away from other bird feeders.
Keep the food fresh.
Have a water source near the feeder. They are attracted to the sound of moving water.
Purchase feeders with perches.
Use an ant guard. Ants are attracted to sugary foods. This includes fruits and nectar.
If they are nesting close by, they may still visit. Don’t put your feeders away. Your neighbor’s feeders may be empty. They will look for additional food sources.
Provide food the whole season. They may not eat as much fruit during the summer, but as soon as they get ready to migrate, they will begin to consume it more frequently. They need the sugar that the fruit provides for energy. Also, migrating orioles may stop by.
Don’t give up. Just because they don’t show up the first few years, doesn’t mean that they won’t. And the food won’t go to waste. Many other birds eat oranges, jelly and meal worms. Hummingbirds will sip up the nectar.
Other Birds Will Come
Orioles are not the only birds that you will attract by proving oranges, jelly and mealworms. Mealworms are enjoyed by many birds. Oranges, fruits and jelly will also attract: