What Do Orioles Eat?

Orioles primarily eat insects, nectar, fruit, and jelly. The best time to see orioles in your backyard is during their breeding season, which typically occurs in late spring and early summer. They migrate to their wintering grounds in Central and South America during the fall.

The Baltimore Oriole is a welcome visitor to our backyard every year. Usually, we start to hear the pleasant, unmistakable song of the Oriole in mid-May, and continue to hear and see them throughout the summer months.

They are one of our favorite species to photograph because they seem to bring warmer weather with them in the spring.

Here are some of the reasons why Orioles birds are so popular with birdwatchers and bird photographers:

Colorful appearance: The male Baltimore Oriole is a striking bird with bright orange plumage and black wings, while the female has a more subdued yellow-orange coloration. Both genders have distinctive black markings on their wings and tail.

Beautiful song: The Baltimore Oriole is known for its rich, flute-like song, which can be heard throughout the day during the breeding season. Their song is often described as cheerful and melodic.

Seasonal appearance: Orioles are migratory birds that only visit certain areas during specific times of the year. Their appearance in a backyard can be a sign of the changing seasons and the arrival of spring.

Unique feeding habits: Orioles have a unique feeding style, often hanging upside down or sideways to access food sources. They also enjoy a variety of foods, including nectar, fruit, and jelly, making them fun birds to feed and watch.

A female Baltimore Oriole hanging upside down eating berries.

Nesting behavior: Orioles build intricate hanging nests, often woven from plant fibers, grasses, and other materials. Their nesting behavior can be fascinating to observe and provides an opportunity to see young orioles grow and develop.

Overall, the Baltimore Oriole is a beautiful and unique bird that adds color and excitement to any backyard birdwatching experience.

What Time of Year Can You Attract Orioles to Your Yard?

The best time of year to attract orioles to your yard is during their breeding season, which typically occurs from late April to early August, depending on your location. During this time, male orioles will be establishing territories and attracting mates, while females will be searching for suitable nesting sites.

However, orioles may also visit backyard feeders during their migration in the spring and fall. In the spring, they typically migrate from their wintering grounds in Central and South America to breeding grounds in North America, while in the fall, they migrate back to their wintering grounds.

To attract orioles to your yard, you can offer a variety of foods, including fresh fruit, nectar, jelly, and mealworms. You can also provide nesting materials, such as string, yarn, and horsehair, to help attract nesting pairs.

It’s important to note that orioles are migratory birds, so their presence in your yard may vary depending on the time of year and your location. However, providing a reliable food source and nesting materials can increase your chances of attracting these colorful birds to your yard.

Many species of orioles are known to return to the same location to feed every year. They tend to have specific preferences for food sources and will return to areas where they have found abundant sources of food in the past.

By providing consistent food sources year after year, you can increase the likelihood of attracting orioles to your yard and encouraging them to return to feed in the same location each season.

What Foods Do Orioles Eat?

Orioles are known to feed on a variety of foods, including insects, fruits, nectar, and jelly. Insects are the primary food source for orioles during the breeding season, while they tend to rely more on fruits and nectar in the fall and winter months. Some common foods that orioles eat include:

  1. Insects: Orioles are known to feed on insects such as beetles, caterpillars, grasshoppers, and spiders.
  2. Fruits: They also feed on a variety of fruits such as oranges, berries, grapes, apples, and bananas.
  3. Nectar: Orioles are attracted to flowers with nectar, such as trumpet vine, honeysuckle, and jewelweed.
  4. Jelly: Many people put out jelly or jam for orioles, which they seem to enjoy.
  5. Sugar water: Some people also offer a mixture of sugar water to orioles, which is similar to the nectar found in flowers.

It’s important to note that orioles have a high metabolism and require a lot of energy to sustain their active lifestyle, so providing a variety of foods can help ensure they are getting the nutrients they need.

Why Do Orioles Like Oranges?

Orioles are attracted to oranges because they are a rich source of sugar and water, which are important components of their diet. In the wild, orioles feed primarily on nectar from flowers, but they also eat fruit, insects, and other small animals.

Oranges are especially appealing to orioles because they contain a lot of juice, which provides them with a quick burst of energy. The sweet taste of oranges is also attractive to orioles, who have a well-developed sense of taste.

If you want to attract orioles to your yard, offering slices of oranges or putting out an orange feeder can be an effective way to do so. It’s important to note that you should never use insecticides or other chemicals on the oranges or in the area around the feeder, as this can be harmful to the birds.

Should you Feed Grape Jelly to Orioles?

While grape jelly is a popular food to offer to orioles, it is important to note that it should be offered in moderation and as a supplement to a varied diet. Grape jelly is high in sugar and lacks the protein and nutrients that orioles need to maintain their health.

In addition, some experts believe that offering grape jelly could lead to a dependency on this sugary treat and deter orioles from seeking out other natural food sources. Therefore, it is recommended to offer grape jelly as a treat occasionally, rather than as a main food source.

It’s also important to use only natural grape jelly, without artificial colors or preservatives, and to clean and change the jelly frequently to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. It’s best to provide a variety of foods, including fresh fruit, nectar, and insects, to ensure a balanced diet for orioles.

Do Orioles Eat Suet?

While orioles are primarily known to feed on insects, fruits, nectar, and jelly, they may occasionally eat suet as well. Suet is a high-fat food that is often offered to birds during the winter months when food sources are scarce. It is typically made from animal fat and can be mixed with other ingredients, such as seeds or fruits, to make it more appealing to birds.

While orioles are not typically known to be suet eaters, they may occasionally eat it if it is offered to them. However, it is important to note that suet does not provide the essential nutrients that orioles need to maintain their health, so it should not be relied upon as a main food source. It’s best to offer a variety of foods, including fresh fruit, nectar, insects, and jelly, to ensure a balanced diet for orioles.

How to Make Oriole Food

Making your own oriole food is a great way to provide a healthy and nutritious diet for these colorful birds. Here’s a simple recipe for making oriole food:


  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/4 cup grapefruit juice


In a bowl, combine the boiling water, sugar, and honey. Stir until the sugar is dissolved.
Add the orange juice and grapefruit juice and stir to combine.
Allow the mixture to cool to room temperature before pouring it into an oriole feeder.
Store any leftover mixture in the refrigerator for up to a week.
Alternatively, you can also offer fresh oranges, grape jelly, and mealworms to attract orioles to your backyard.

It’s important to note that orioles have a high metabolism and require a lot of energy to sustain their active lifestyle, so providing a variety of foods can help ensure they are getting the nutrients they need. Also, be sure to clean your oriole feeder regularly to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Helpful Resource: How to Clean Your Bird Feeder

What Type of Oriole Feeder Works Best?

When choosing an oriole feeder, it’s important to select one that is designed specifically for orioles and their feeding habits. Here are some factors to consider when choosing an oriole feeder:

Feeder design: Oriole feeders typically have a bright orange color and are designed with large feeding ports to accommodate the size and beak shape of orioles. They may also have perches or a feeding tray to allow orioles to feed comfortably.

Feeder capacity: Oriole feeders should have a large enough capacity to hold an ample supply of food, as orioles have a high metabolism and require frequent feeding. A feeder with a capacity of at least 16 ounces is recommended.

Feeder material: Oriole feeders can be made from a variety of materials, including plastic, glass, and ceramic. Plastic feeders are lightweight and durable, while glass and ceramic feeders may be more decorative.

Ease of cleaning: It’s important to choose a feeder that is easy to clean, as feeders can quickly become dirty and can harbor harmful bacteria. A feeder with removable parts or a wide-mouth design can make cleaning easier.

Ant guards: Oriole feeders can be equipped with ant guards to prevent ants from accessing the nectar or jelly. Ant guards typically consist of a moat filled with water that creates a barrier to keep ants out.

Overall, a feeder that is bright orange, has large feeding ports, a perching area, and a large capacity is recommended for attracting and feeding orioles. Additionally, it’s important to keep the feeder clean and well-stocked to attract and retain these beautiful birds.

A male Baltimore Oriole sits perched on a tree in the spring.

Are Orioles an Endangered Species?

The conservation status of oriole species varies depending on the specific species and their geographic location. Some oriole species are considered threatened or endangered due to habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation caused by human activities, such as deforestation and urbanization.

For example, the Hispaniolan Oriole (Icterus dominicensis) is listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) due to habitat loss and degradation in its range in the Dominican Republic and Haiti. The Jamaican Oriole (Icterus leucopteryx) is also listed as endangered by the IUCN due to habitat loss and predation by introduced species in its range in Jamaica.

However, other oriole species are considered to be of the least concern by the IUCN, meaning they are not currently facing significant threats. It’s important to note that even species of least concern can still benefit from conservation efforts, such as the protection and restoration of their habitats and the reduction of threats from human activities.

2 Replies to “What Do Orioles Eat?”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *