With their mix of bright orange and black colors, Baltimore Orioles are stunning birds and a welcome sign of spring and summer at bird feeders for much of North America.
Outside of their striking colors, it’s particularly thrilling to attract a Baltimore Oriole to a bird feeder because they’re hard to catch a glimpse of in everyday life. They tend to stick high up in trees and away from people.
Attracting a Baltimore Oriole to your bird feeders is incredibly rewarding. The best part? It’s not rocket science! You can bring them in with the right feeder and a quick run to the grocery store.
Step 1. Understand the Timing for Baltimore Orioles
Baltimore Orioles migrate from Central America in April and make it to the Northern states by mid-May. Their return back to Central America peaks in August and September. The Cornell Bird Lab has a good map of the Baltimore Oriole’s range here.
Your best chance to attract an Oriole is to have your feeder and their favorite foods out early to catch them during their spring migration.
Even in Minnesota, I tend to put my Oriole feeder out in early-to-mid April to be sure! Orioles are looking for sugar and water after expending a lot of energy during their flight north for nesting season. If you catch an Oriole at your feeder at this time, they’ll probably keep coming back for several weeks and may even nest nearby!
Step 2. Put Out The Best Baltimore Oriole Food Options
Unlike most other backyard birds, Baltimore Orioles aren’t interested in seeds. You need to draw them in with sweet foods: Grape jelly, fruit (especially oranges) and nectar are all appealing options as its easily transitioned into fat for energy.
The food I have the most success with is offering a combination of oranges and grape jelly in an Oriole feeder. I find that Orioles almost always eat the grape jelly instead of the oranges, but I still put those out. Orioles are drawn to the color orange (scientists say they associate the color with food) making it a must-have at your feeders!
It doesn’t appear to matter what kind of grape jelly you buy for Orioles, as long as it isn’t jam. I buy Welch’s Natural Grape Jelly from Target with the squeezable bottle. I like offering this as it has simple ingredients and no high-fructose corn syrup.
IMPORTANT: According to the Cornell Lab, it’s important to only offer small amounts of grape jelly at a time to avoid birds inadvertently getting it in their feathers.
You can also offer Baltimore Orioles the same sugar and water nectar mixture for hummingbirds. Mix one part sugar with four parts water and put it into a specialized feeder!
Later in the summer and into the early fall, I’ve read that Orioles become more attracted to mealworms, which tend to draw in a variety of birds, so I’d recommend putting some out during the summer and fall at your feeding station. You might just get a bonus round of Orioles swooping in!
Want to take a minimalist approach to attract Baltimore Orioles? Cut an orange in half and put it out on your deck railing or patio with a smear of jelly on top! This will do the trick for little effort or cost…but be prepared for ants, bugs, and squirrels.
Step 3. Buy a Baltimore Oriole Feeder
You don’t need to overcomplicate things with an Oriole feeder. You just need something that will offer sliced oranges with grape jelly, or nectar!
The feeder I picked for Orioles is the Birds Choice model below. It has spokes on the side for orange halves and a center cup for grape jelly. I used it last year and it did the trick, drawing in both a male and female Oriole in the late spring and mid-summer. I was also pleasantly surprised to see my flock of house finches use it. It turns out that they love grape jelly in the summer! Catbirds and Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks will also eat grape jelly.
Option two is a nectar feeder. A bonus with this approach is that it will also draw in hummingbirds. Another summer favorite!
Another option that you can explore is an Oriole-focused platform feeder with a roof. This will be helpful if it rains to shield the jelly you put out.
Step 4. Hang Your Feeder in an Ideal Location and Make Your Yard Friendly
I’ve noticed that Baltimore Orioles are similar to Northern Cardinals in a way, they’re skittish birds and will scout out your feeder before immediately visiting.
Baltimore Orioles breed in deciduous or mixed woodlands, generally in open spaces or on edges, according to the Audubon Field Guide. You’ll often see them near the tops of trees. So, you can increase your odds of having them visit if you place your feeder in a visible location that’s also near trees or brush. Find a balance so that your orange-colored feeder will draw them in while allowing them to be comfortable with places to hide nearby.
Planting native plants and flowers will also attract a wider variety of birds to your yard, especially Orioles in the spring and summer as they’re scouting locations to nest.
There you have it! By following these steps, you should draw in Baltimore Orioles to your yard.
Want to do even more to increase your chances of drawing in Baltimore Orioles? Follow these additional universal tips below to attract more birds to your yard!
- Provide water in a bird bath (especially with a stream or water bubbler)
- Avoid using pesticides
- Keep your cats indoors
If you found this article helpful, let me know in the comment section below. Thank you for reading!
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