8 Tips to Attract Orioles to Your Yard

I’m not sure if it was seeing goldfinches, bluejays, or cardinals that turned me into a recreational bird geek, but I LOVE  welcoming and inviting the many different species of birds that return to our area with the arrival of spring.

I watch the yard daily to see the first robin (March 7th this year) as the unofficial start of warmer weather.

Then I scan the skies for these raptors…whom, I fear, perch in our trees hoping to use our Pomeranian to feed their families.

Coopers Hawk

Even as a little girl I was a regular caller to the recorded “Dial-a-Bird” line from the Buffalo Ornithological Society.

So, I was excited a few years ago, when a neighbor introduced me to orioles.

It’s been pretty cold this week, and I wasn’t planning to get my oriole feeders cleaned up and ready to hang until next week…but yesterday, I swear I saw oriole air-bounce across the yard and land in a tree. It was WAY too orange to be a robin. SO, even though it may be a tad early, I’d rather reload now than miss the opportunity to invite these guys to nest in our yard. (For an update to this post: click here.)

Baltimore Oriole

Orioles are not uncommon in our area, but I’d never seen one until my neighbor, Linda, kindly clued me in to her “Oriole Secrets,” which are:

  • Orioles scope out “friendly areas” to nest and are then fairly loyal to it. If you’re not ready when they’re scoping, they seem to move on for the rest of the season. But keep trying!
  • They are attracted to the color orange, so select your feeders accordingly. Hang them in very visible areas so the birds can see them from overhead.
  • They like the same nectar mix as hummingbirds…four parts water to one part sugar (skip the food coloring). Orioles differ from hummingbirds in that they have larger beaks, so they need a feeder that accommodates their bill.
  • Hang a feeder near a birdbath. They like to dine and shine.
  • Put out yarn and string they (and other birds) can use in their nests…I use an old suet cage for easy access. Don’t you just love the orioles’ interesting nests?

  • In addition to nectar, they are very fond of orange slices and grape or fruit jelly. They’ll eat apples and melon, too!
  • No feeder? Cut a few oranges in half and stick them on branches in your yard. 
  • Place your feeder high enough to protect your Oriole visitors from predators or pets (I’m looking at YOU, Kelly!)



If you’re feeling crafty, there are plenty of simple DIY feeders you can make, like this feeder from BirdsandBlooms.com

or this simple rake repurpose photographed by Deborah Cohen.


I don’t have a picture of mine when they were sparkling, perfect, and newly made (I wasn’t blogging back then).  But, a little worn and fairly frequented, this is what they look like now:ddfeeder

I retrieve them from the trees as soon as it’s spring, wash them, add a quick topping of orange spray paint over the dirty weathered wood, and usually glue down a new nectar cup (the old ones rarely survive the winter). So envision this as if it was just made and not a hastily painted retread.

FYI, I made this using precut wood plaques from the craft store (the same kind, actually, that I used for the decorative house number craft) and:

painted it orange,
glued on a nectar cup (the bottom of a water bottle).
added a perch,
inserted screw eyes at the corners,
attached chain, gathered it at the top, and hung it from a branch.

Let me tell you, orioles aren’t THAT fussy…they don’t care about polka dots, sloppy paint, or how you attach what to what…

how to attract orioles

Just get your “orange on” and watch those lovelies decorate your yard.