Apr 9, 2015 | Featured Web Article

It's Raining Orioles!

Baltimore orioles are fond of fruit, such as orange halves.
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The very first time I saw a Baltimore oriole was when it landed on my hummingbird feeder one spring. I was immediately hooked. I had to have this bird in my yard! For the next five years, I placed numerous orange slices on tree limbs and special oriole feeders filled with orange nectar on hooks all over the yard-to no avail.

My husband commented that at least the yard looked festive, decorated in bright shades of orange. I told him that if you don't put their food out early enough, they would only pass your yard by and go somewhere else. He laughed and let me continue my mission each year.

Then one year, April began warmer than usual and I diligently put out my oriole buffet. No takers. Next came an unexpected cold snap, with the temps dipping into the low to middle 40s, accompanied by dreary, rainy skies.

And then it happened: An oriole eating from a soggy orange. My spirits lifted. Finally, success! But it got better. It was like the sky opened and started raining orioles! They dropped into my yard by the dozens. Before the week was over, I was feeding close to 100 Baltimore and orchard orioles! We immediately built a table (a piece of plywood over a wheelbarrow) so we could offer double-bowled pet dishes filled with sugar water. I drove all over town looking for the best deals on oranges. It was crazy, but so much fun!

I invited anyone and everyone who would believe me to come over and see this spectacle. It lasted for two weeks. I later learned that this event was called "fallout," which does not happen very often, especially in someone's backyard!

From that moment on, my relationship with orioles has continued to this day. Spring brings at least three dozen oriole visitors to my yard, with some of them even nesting in our neighborhood. The oriole buffet includes oranges, nectar feeders and the very popular grape jelly feeder. I also provide short pieces of twine for use as nesting material.

I highly encourage anyone who wants to have orioles visit their yard to feed them. Start placing orange slices or feeders in your yard in early April and wait. Good luck!!

About Cathy Priebe

Cathy Priebe is an avid backyard bird watcher and an active member of the Black River Audubon Society in Lorain County, Ohio. She also loves her cats, gardening and nature.

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  • I had a pair nesting for the first time this year at our farmstead in South Dakota. Boxes put out for Bluebirds which didn't come, but these were a very pleasant consolation.
    by fluffypeanutcat, Tue, 25 Sep 2018
  • This is a good point. While cleaning mine, I kinda got the impression the cheep cheeps were waiting on me since they started chirping as soon as I brought it outside again. I swear they are so smart. Within five minutes of filling the feeder up, they are there to feast.cheers Cheep cheeps!
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • Hahaha, I love the ending remark "that area will have already been well -fertilized!"I've noticed that there are more cheep cheeps right after I clean the bird feeder compared to how many there are right before it was cleaned...so cheep cheeps do like and appreciate a well maintained feeder and they are worth the effort. : )
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 20 Jul 2018
  • The storm saying seems true so far. We had as party at our bird feeder right before our last storm... 6 at once but different cheeps cheeps would come and go so there were more than 6 for sure..and squirrels eating with the birds
    by Kimber timbers, Fri, 13 Jul 2018
  • I know and do clean my feeders both for seed and for hummingbird liquid. I have a vase full of different size brushes that are only for this purpose. I have friends however who NEVER clean their feeders or bird baths, and it’s gross! I am ringing this article and will have to give out to the few offenders I know. I can’t imagine looking at such mess and not cleaning it, but not everyone thinks resale. Part of responsible bird watching/loving is to make the time and take the effort to do this.
    by Carol, Tue, 10 Jul 2018