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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    by pmalcpoet, Mon, 20 Dec 2021
  • Goldfinches will continue as long as Swiss chard is available. I'm watching one eating chard right now (mid-November in Vermont).
    by Brian Tremback, Sun, 14 Nov 2021
  • Birds are on the decline though sunflowers are rarely touched and for weeks hardly .eaten. I'll try a few sparing nuts on the table and a fat ball broken for jackdaws and tits but mealworms were a summer favourite being my go to choice
    by Paul Harabaras, Thu, 04 Nov 2021
  • I’ve been enjoying goldfinches eating coneflower/ echinacea seeds in my new pollinator garden! I will leave the plants out all winter for them if the seeds keep that long? Or should I deadhead and put them in a dry area? Im in CT and thought they migrated, but didn’t know they put in winter coats! What do they eat in winter without bird feeders?
    by Anne Sheffield, Sat, 04 Sep 2021
  • Hi Gary, I will pass your question along to Birdsquatch next time I see him. He knows infinitely more about nocturnal wildlife than I do. Where do you live? That's pretty important in figuring out the answer. But the thief could be raccoons, deer, or flying squirrels. Do you live in the woods? Are there trees near your feeder, or must the culprit climb a shepherd's hook or pole? Dawn Hewitt, Watching Backyard Birds
    by Dawn Hewitt, Mon, 30 Aug 2021