Connections: Attract Orioles To Your Yard!

Baltimore Orioles are back! We’re not talking about the baseball team (though we can’t wait for the Sox to play again!), we’re talking about one of the brightest and most beautiful bird species in the entire country.

The first of these migratory birds have returned to Maine just a few days ago, and thousands more will be coming over the next few weeks. With a little luck, and some INCREDIBLY easy enticements, you may be able to bring some Baltimore Orioles to your backyard.

Here’s all you need to do: give ‘em some tasty treats.

Baltimore Oriole on DIY feeder – Tom Shockey FLICKR

BUT, orioles aren’t like other backyard birds, they don’t want to eat seed or suet, they want sugar. Fruit makes up a large part of an oriole’s diet (insects are the other large part), and so putting some fruit in your backyard is a great way to tempt them.

The easiest and most popular method is this: Cut an orange in half and stick it out there somewhere. It works! The bright color and delicious aroma of citrus are irresistible. If you want you can buy hangers specially designed for sticking orange onto, but there’s nothing wrong with just sticking the orange onto a tree branch or cutting it to fit inside a suet cage.

Another option is to put out a cup of jelly. Orioles in particular love grape jelly–it supposedly reminds them of the dark, ripe fruit they prefer–but other flavors will work too. Place jelly in a small dish and hang, if possible. Checking out YouTube can reveal some cool DIY jelly hangers, but Maine Audubon’s Nature Store also supplies dishes and hangers.

Baltimore Oriole eating grape jelly – Bely Medved FLICKR

And that’s it! It may take awhile for Baltimore Orioles to find your feeders, but don’t give up. Change your jelly if it gets moldy (well, change all your backyard bird food if it gets moldy!), but otherwise just kick back and wait for the beauty. Enjoy!

Our educators, scientists, advocates, and naturalists are committed to keeping you connected to the natural world as we deal with the coronavirus situation together. Check in every weekday on our Connections page for family activities, parent/teacher tips, backyard birding, nature exploration at our sanctuaries, and more.