The next big wave of migrants is set to descend on Southwestern Ontario. Included in this group will be the Baltimore Oriole. Orioles overwinter in the southern United States, Central, and South America returning each spring in late April or early May. Reports of these birds in our area are beginning to come in, so it is time to think about attracting them to your yard.
Feeding on insects, fruit, and nectar the Baltimore Oriole doesn’t visit your typical backyard feeder filled with seed; however, they will visit a feeder designed specifically for orioles. A nectar feeder, similar to those used for hummingbirds, is one of the more popular feeders used by homeowners to attract orioles to their yards. Since orioles have larger bills than hummingbirds, these feeders have larger ports for the birds to access the nectar.
Nectar can be made easily at home by mixing four parts water to one part sugar. In a pot, bring one cup of water to a boil on your stove. Add in 1/4 cup of white sugar and stir as the sugar dissolves. Remove the mixture from the stove and allow it to cool before filling your feeder. Be sure to replace the nectar in your feeder regularly, especially in warmer weather.
Oranges are another great option to offer orioles that visit your backyard. By placing either orange slices or halves around your yard, orioles will quickly move in to consume the fruit. Orange halves and slices can be stuck on tree branches, shepherd’s hooks, or any where the birds can access them. It has been my experience that squirrels too will eat oranges, so it is a good idea to place them in a location where these small mammals cannot access them. Commercial feeders designed specifically for offering oranges are also available at your local seed retailer.
Grape jelly is another excellent food for attracting orioles to your yard. Be careful though, as not all jellies are created equal. Many of the grape jellies available at your local grocery store are sweetened with high fructose corn syrup. Corn syrup affects the bird’s ability to feel full, and is therefore not a healthy option. Be sure to check the ingredients on the label and make sure that the grape jelly you buy is either unsweetened, or sweetened with sugar only. If you are unsure, commercial jelly designed specifically for birds is available at your local seed retailer.
Grape jelly can be placed outside in a shallow dish, or again commercial feeders are available specifically for jelly. Some of these feeders are combination feeders, meaning they will accommodate oranges and jelly, or oranges, jelly and nectar. Visit your local seed retailer to see the wide variety of commercial oriole feeders available. As is the case with nectar and oranges, replace the jelly regularly especially in warmer weather. When replacing the food, whether it’s nectar, oranges, or jelly, clean the feeder at the same time. This too will ensure the health of the birds.
Orioles are one of the more vibrant birds that will visit a backyard, and are easy to attract. If you haven’t put your oriole feeder out yet, now is the time. If you don’t own an oriole feeder, I highly recommend adding one to your yard. These feeders are inexpensive to purchase and well worth the investment once you see that first flash of black and orange in your backyard.