One of the first questions we ask customers who come in our shop hoping to attract orioles is whether they've seen them in their area before. If they answer "no", we usually suggest they watch for them and pick up a feeder when they know they have the proper habitat for orioles.
If they say "yes, I saw them last year" or "yes, I've seen their unmistakable pendulous nest in a nearby tree", we then encourage them to try an oriole feeder.
If you can answer "yes" to my question, here are my top 5 tips for attracting orioles into your yard.
1) Have the oriole feeder up and ready BEFORE they arrive.
In our area of east central New York state, that means putting out an oriole feeder near the beginning of May.
2) Hang the feeder so it's visible from the treetops.
Orioles are treetop birds, so make sure you hang your oriole feeder where they would be most likely to see it from their perches at the top of deciduous trees.
3) Offer fruit.
Oranges are the easiest food to offer orioles at a birdfeeder. Cut them in half so the insides are up.
You can also offer grape jelly. Orioles have a sweet tooth and will eat mounds of grape jelly daily. Don't make the jelly pile too deep, just in case some other smaller bird with a sweet tooth gets into it.
4) Offer mealworms.
Orioles eat insects, especially tent caterpillars, and will eat live mealworms offered in a birdfeeder.
5) Offer nectar.
Orioles will lap up nectar, but because of the size of their bill, it needs to be in a specialty oriole feeder that has ports bigger than those on a hummingbird feeder.
The nectar concentration is weaker too, 8-to-1 instead of the hummingbird nectar ratio of 4-to-1. Check out the nectar recipe page on our website.
At our Wild Birds Unlimited shop, we have a number of oriole feeders for providing these foods.
So, get those feeders out and watch for that stunning flash of orange and black of the beautiful male oriole!
Image 1 & 2 - WBU Inc. image library
Image 3 - Mary Foss Bullard, WBU-Saratoga's Fan PIC of the YEAR 2012.