Tips to Attracting Orioles To Your Backyard
Because of their strikingly beautiful black and orange or yellow plumage, their distinctive whistle, spring songs and their amazing suspended nest, Orioles are quickly becoming one of America’s favorite birds. While over eight species of Orioles can regularly be seen in the United States, we’ll deal mainly in this page with three species –Baltimore, Bullock and Orchard. All United States Orioles show variation on the theme of black with yellow or orange plumage. 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. Although studies are still being done on how much we can tempt Orioles to nest in backyards, by summer’s end, migrating Orioles are headed back south to their tropical winter homes in Central and South America. It does appear that Baltimore Orioles ranges are expanding, while Bullocks and Orchard Orioles are declining. All Orioles need and benefit from your help.
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 twine or horse hair. A commercially available Oriole nesting material holder and nest material mix is now being tested and will shortly be available. 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. Both parents feed the babies until they fledge in another 12-14 days. By summer’s end, all will have departed for a warm winter stay in South America.
Orioles migrate at night so they are tired, cold, and hungry when they arrive in your yard. If you wait until you see’em you will be “too late” to attract maximum numbers of Orioles to your yard. To attract 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. We love the new bright orange “Jelly Feeder” from Bird company as it’s inexpensive and slips right on Smuckers™ or other 10—12 ounce jelly jars. Many people feed jelly year-around, as not only Orioles, but Woodpeckers, Robins, Warblers and others enjoy it. Grape jelly seems to be the favorite, many people tell us they keep Orioles longer now that they feed them jelly!! Our favorite Oriole nectar feeders are the Bird Company Oriole Feeders. Why? Their wide mouths and flat tops, make’em easy to fill and clean (base also comes apart easily to clean) and their patented bee guards make sure Orioles (not bees) enjoy the nectar. If you are worried about ants bothering your jelly or Oriole nectar, simply hang one of our Clear Nectar Protector Ant Moats above them and fill 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 feeders!! (It also works great on Hummingbird feeders!) While we often tell people to mix their own hummingbird nectar from sugar, we do feel the Commercial Oriole nectars we offer, attract and hold more Orioles at the feeder longer.