Light in the Dark: The Return of Orioles

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The weather has finally been catching up with the season and it is feeling a lot like spring these days. Considering that for the most part, we are all spending all of our time at home during current social distancing measures, it is a great time to really delve into creating backyard biodiversity and finding sanctuary in our surroundings. One of the best parts about spring is that the change in weather brings an influx of migrating birds back to the region for mating and nesting, and we get to observe them in all of their colourful glory. A spring favourite and a "bucket list" bird for most is observing Orioles. We really are captivated by them, aren't we? Perhaps it is their bright colours and beautiful call that add to their allure.

Mid-April to Mid-May is considered peak oriole migration time and they may soon be arriving in the region. We wanted to give some tips on how to attract them to your yard so that you may marvel in their beauty while you stay home. We get both Baltimore Orioles and Bullock's Orioles in the region.

Tips for Attracting Orioles: 

1. Get an Oriole Focused Feeder and Accessories: Orioles are particularly attracted to the colour orange. They also love to feed on oranges. If you purchase a feeder specifically meant for feeding orioles, not only will the bright orange attract them, it is built to hold items that Orioles prefer to eat as they like fruit and not seed
This male Baltimore Oriole seems intrigued by this orange finial 

2. Offer Foods that Orioles Enjoy: Orioles love to feed on fruit. By offering things like orange slices and jelly, you are far more likely to have orioles feed (and potentially nest) in your backyard. They also enjoy mealworms. Oranges can be sliced or halved and should stay out for only a couple days (discard when spoiled). Orioles also love jelly (not jam) and it is best that you use jelly designed for bird consumption with no artificial sweeteners, colours or flavours. We offer BirdBerry Jelly that is a hit with Orioles! As well as mealworms. You can see our full range of nectars and jellies here. 

Male Baltimore Oriole feeding on orange slices and BirdBerry Jelly

3. Provide a Water Source: this is a great strategy for attracting birds in general, they all need to drink. If you are offering a food source that is appealing to them and an open water source, they are more likely to stick around. You can see our full list of birdbaths here. 

4. Plant Native Species That Appeal to Them: orioles particularly like trees such as oak, elm and sycamore for nesting. Further, they are again attracted to bright orange flowers and fruit. They enjoy mulberry, wild cherry, wild raspberry, wild blueberry, blackberry, dogwood berries. Trumpet Vine, due to its colouration, is also a favourite and can attract hummingbirds as well.

If you succeed, you will have the privilege of seeing the immaculate construction of an oriole nest, an intricately woven and expertly created nest. Hundreds of fibres are delicately woven together to create this cradle. Pictured is a male Bullock's Oriole with nestlings.

You may even get the spectacular opportunity of watching Orioles raise their young, such as this male Baltimore Oriole atop a finial, feeding two fledgelings.

Although you may be feeling overwhelmed or upset spending spring at home, there is so much brightness and joy to be found in our own yards. Plant some native species and set up your yard to attract orioles. Fingers crossed you can attract some of these gorgeous birds and enjoy them throughout the spring and summer.



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