Oriole Bird Feeders Nectar, Fruit Bird Feeders
A Fruit Feeder is a way to include specialty treats which appeal to those species who eat primarily fruits and berries. Oriole feeders can supply nectar, jelly and fruit to Orioles, designed in a size that is right for them.
Nine species of orioles occur in the United States. The most common species are the Baltimore Oriole which occurs generally in the eastern United States and the Bullock's Oriole which is found primarily in the western United States. Their ranges can overlap in some areas. Most orioles do not winter in the United States but arrive back in the US for the breeding season in April and May. Their winter range is Florida, the Caribbean, central Mexico and Central America to northern South America. Some are also known to winter in small numbers in southern California.
The most common species found in backyard gardens and yards are:
Baltimore Oriole: The Baltimore Oriole is found east of the plains. The male Baltimore oriole is bright orange with black and white wings, and has a solid black head.
Bullock's Oriole: The Bullock's Oriole is the more common oriole in the western part of the United States. It can be identified by its orange cheeks and eye stripe and large white patches on its wings.
Orchard Oriole: The smaller Orchard Oriole has a darker chestnut colored breast, a black head and tail, and black and white wings. It is found across the eastern United States from the Atlantic to the plains. Like its name indicates, it prefers orchards but can be encountered in more urban and rural areas.
Northern Oriole: The Baltimore Oriole breeds from Saskatchewan and Nova Scotia, south through Dakotas south to eastern Texas, Louisiana and Virginia. Lately the Baltimore Oriole has bred with the western Bullock's Oriole as a individual species, the Northern Oriole. When trees were planted on the Great Plains the two species extended their ranges and joined. In spite of the differences in their appearance, it was discovered that they crossbred, and that most birds in the central plains were hybrids so the birds became merged into a single species. Now it appears that in some areas the birds are selecting mates of their own species and they are regarded separate species.
In the southern states, Orioles return from their winter range to build their nests at the beginning of April. In the north, they arrive between mid April and the beginning of May.
The diet of an oriole is comprised of flower nectar, many types of fruit, a few nuts and also insects. When the orioles first return to the United States from their long journey, they prefer to eat fruits and berries, but they will also eat insects. Attracting orioles means putting an oriole feeder in the yard or garden! You can lure them with chopped pears, orange slices, grapes, cherries, various berries, figs, chopped apples, sliced bananas, nuts and jellies. Jelly type can be grape preserves or orange marmalade. You will need to replace these fruits and preserves daily to keep them as fresh as possible. The fruit can be offered on a simple platform feeder, a suet feeder, and jellies can be placed in a flat dish. Suet that has fruit or insects in it is may also work to attract orioles.
There specially designed oriole feeders which cater to the preferred foods and feeding habits of these birds. Such feeders give them one place away from other birds to find all the food they want and dine in peace. Nectar feeders for orioles are very similar to hummingbird feeders. Where hummingbird feeders are generally red, oriole feeders are orange and have bigger feeding holes and perches for the birds to land upon. The oriole nectar feeder normally is colored orange which seems to be best for attracting oriole species. Often they have a place for fruit, jelly and nectar, or a combination of any of the three. This allows for providing the most types of food an oriole seeks.
oriole feeder placement
Place your oriole feeder in a quite area away from your main bird feeding stations and keep out of direct sun. When can be done, it is best to place the feeder in a shady area. The hot sun is bad for the fruit, jelly or nectar you supply and will cause it to spoil quickly and make the birds sick if they feed upon it. The sun also has the potential to fade the orange color of a feeder. Placement height should be about five to seven feet off the ground, just make sure that it is easy to the oriole feeder as they do need to be changed and cleaned often. If you have to pull out a ladder to do the job, it will quickly become a tiresome chore.
Nectar for oriole feeders can be purchased in pre-made or powders you mix with water, or you can make your own. To make your own, boils together one part sugar to six parts water. Let the mixture cool before putting it in the feeder, and store any extra nectar in the refrigerator. The nectar will need to be changed every four to five days and the feeder should be cleaned thoroughly in hot soapy water. A sugar nectar solution spoils quickly in the hot sun! Weather baffles are made to hang over and help keep oriole feeders out of the sun.
1 part sugar/6 parts water
Boil the water, then add sugar, at the rate of 1/3 cup of sugar to 2 cups of water.
Let cool and store extra in refrigerator until ready to use.
Mealworms are also another food choice you can offer - they readily taken by orioles. They make excellent, high protein food for orioles and other birds. Mealworms should be placed in a small flat container with sides to keep them from crawling away. Fruit suets and suets with insects have also been successful.
Water is always one of the best ways to attract birds to a yard, particularly the more shyer species such as an oriole. Birds need water to avoid dehydration and to stay healthy. Bird baths are likely the best way to draw birds to a yard, even more so than bird feeders. Water is often the most challenging resource that birds must find in order to survive. Wild birds use the water for not only drinking, but also for bathing and to cool themselves in during the heat of summer. Having water available is especially important in times of drought when birds may be stressed. In winter months, birds still need drinking water so it is no less important to supply them with water during the cold than it is during the heat! Orioles, like any other bird, require water to survive. We highly recommend bird baths along with oriole feeders to bring them to any garden. If you can combine water, favorite food, shrubs and trees, chance to attract orioles will be greatly increased.
If having orioles nest in a garden is desirable, try providing nesting materials. When nesting materials are included in any yard habitat one should consider the types of birds and what they prefer to build nest from in order to be able to put out the appropriate items. Orioles are not cavity dwelling birds, thus bird houses do not appeal to them. Your best bet is to include appropriate nesting items for them.
The mating season begins in late April to early May with the males arriving 2 or 3 days ahead the females. The male then begins claiming territories. Their singing is almost ceaseless until they mate with a female. Normally, any singing late in the season is from unmated or immature birds. Once the birds have found a mate they defend their territory and begin nesting. They tend to nest in elms, poplars, willows, and cottonwoods. Like many other birds, the female oriole is the chief nest builder. Their nest is a woven pouch which is hanging from the tip of a tree branch and suspended from a branch 15 to 90 feet above ground. They hide their nests among the leaves of a tree and can usually only be seen after leaves have fallen. The nest is made with fine grasses, fine chips of flexible bark, plant fibers, milkweed and strings which are all interwoven neatly and firmly. The nest is woven so that the air may still easily pass through it.
Items to provide to encourage nest building:
- Dog or cat fur - if you have pets, when you brush them, save clumps of hair! Many species of birds love to use pet hair for nest building.
- Natural fiber yarn- Always use neutral, natural colors. cut in lengths no longer than 6 inches
- Twine or dull colored string cut in lengths no longer than 6 inches, Remember, birds are small! Babies or parents can easily tangle in anything longer than six inches.
- Milkweed Silk - Great stuff for nest building! If milkweed grows wild in your area, consider collecting some at the end of the summer to save for the following spring. Milkweed is a choice of several species of songbirds including the American Goldfinch. Never use dryer lint for bird nesting materials! Although it feels soft when it first comes out of the dryer filter,it does not hold up after a rain. It becomes hard and brittle and is likely to fall apart on the birds, along with having chemicals such as fabric softeners and dryer sheets in it.
- Special nest building blends of materials may also be purchased which include safe, preferred nest building items.
On a note: Simple suet cages make great holders for nesting materials if you do not buy pre-made kits, but collect your own. We recommend a plain, vinyl coated one cake suet cage. Place it where perching birds may reach it, not just clingers!
fruit birds eat
A few fruits and what wild birds they can attract. You can use this feeder dish to hold bits of fruit such as raisins - a favorite of several wild birds - while using the skewer to spike an orange or apple on. The dish can also be used for mealworms or jelly! We have this feeder and particularly enjoy it.
- Apples – One of our favorite foods for fruit and berry eating birds. It's easy and effective. Over 45 species of birds will eat apples. Yellow breasted chat, common flickers, house finch, blue jay, mockingbirds, orioles, American robin, sparrow white crowned, thrasher curve billed, thrush hermit, orange crowned warbler orange crowned, waxwing cedar, hairy woodpecker, cactus wren.
- Blueberries - American robins, black-capped chickadees, common flickers, grackles, house sparrows, kingbird, many species of orioles, towhees, and tufted titmice.
- Bananas - indigo bunting, chat yellow breasted, house finch, gray jay, mockingbirds, starlings, tanager western, warbler Tennessee, hairy woodpecker, Carolina wren.
- Cantaloupe seeds – nuthatch white breasted, nuthatch red breasted, house sparrow.
- Cherries - American robins, blackbirds, bluebirds, blue jays, gray catbirds, cedar waxwings, common flickers, downy woodpeckers, grackles, hairy woodpeckers, hermit thrushes, house finches, house sparrows, Lewis woodpeckers, northern cardinals, northern mockingbirds, red headed woodpeckers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, ruffed grouse, song sparrows, stellar jays, Townsend's solitares, western tanagers, other tanagers, white crowned sparrows, white throated sparrows, wood thrushes.
- Crabapples frozen - Purple, American robin, cedar waxwing.
- Grapes – Over 90 species of birds eat grapes. American robin, bluebirds, blue jay, cedar waxwing, gray catbird, house finch, evening grosbeaks, grosbeak black headed, grosbeak rose breasted, gray jay, mockingbird, magpies, northern cardinals, hooded oriole, oriole northern Baltimore, scott’s oriole, stellar jays, western tanager, Carolina thrasher, brown thrasher, Swainson’s thrush, towhees, warblers, acorn woodpeckers and yellow-billed cuckoos.
- Oranges – catbird gray, doves, mockingbirds, oriole northern Baltimore, tanager scarlet, tanager summer, tanager western, thrasher brown, warbler yellow rumped myrtle, woodpecker red bellied.
- Pumpkin seeds – chickadee, junco dark eyed, nuthatch white breasted, sparrow American tree, warbler yellow rumped.
- Strawberries – bluebirds, gray catbird, cedar waxwings, common flickers, grosbeak black headed, grosbeak rose breasted, jay blue, magpies, mockingbirds, robin American, Quail bobwhite, towhees, wood thrush.
- Watermelon rind – purple finch, grosbeaks, mockingbird, oriole hooded, warblers.