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 have experienced this when a house wren punctured 5 blue bird eggs last spring in our blue bird box. Then I hung out a wren box by the trees and he got busy filling it and left the bluebirds alone and they successfully raised another brood!
    by Susan, Sun, 07 Apr 2019
  • I also have several turkeys that live in the woods behind me. They visit early morning and near sundown. Living in the country with a mountain and brook behind my house, I have animals visiting 24hrs a day. My turkeys are awesome. They know me and wait for their breakfast. They hop up on my patio wall to look in my windows. I also noticed the 2 birds that are the lookouts. They come over to eat as the others march across my lawn to my neighbor who also feeds the animals. We also have coyotes that, I am sure, have eaten turkey dinner. The squirrels run around and chase them to protect their seeds and cracked corn. I feed my 3 raccoons peanut butter jelly sandwiches, which they share with a possum and 3 skunks, at the same time, by the way. No food goes into my garbage. Meat scraps go to crows and hawks. Everything else, even soup, gets eaten before the sun is completely set. That keeps bears away if no dishes are there to entice. I break up bread in tiny pieces now and turkeys 'gobble' it up. So happy to find another person that enjoys wildlife. Nothing is more satisfying than walking out side and spotting Daisy the skunk, calling her name and watching her tripping all over herself, running to meet you. Thank you for your valuable information.
    by Stella Kachur, Wed, 27 Mar 2019
  • This is exactly my experience. The local feed store had some on sale so I thought I'd try some. Actually I was shocked at how it is avoided, and I've been feeding birds for more than 40 years. I suppose I've never had it out as the ONLY food source, but when I put it out along with the blackoil, peanuts, cracked corn and suet cakes, absolutely nothing would touch it. Even when I dumped some on the ground the rabbits wouldn't eat it, nor would the squirrels. Eventually some turkeys and deer ate some--when they could find nothing else underneath the other feeders. But even they left plenty on the ground which they NEVER do with cracked corn, sunflower, etc.Every person should try some if they're inclined and decide for themselves since every situation may be a bit different, but for me/my species, safflower is a big no.
    by Colin Croft, Sun, 03 Mar 2019
  • I have questions about the Zick Dough? It says not to use in cold weather. It is still in the 40s here. Too soon? How long should I expect a supply to last? And, use a tray feeder? Thanks.
    by martindf, Sun, 25 Nov 2018
  • Glad I found this. I'm a snowbird and was worried about all the birds that come to feed at my birdfeeder. I have Cardinals, sparrows, doves, Blue Jays, chickadees. I hope they'll find food elsewhere while I'm gone.
    by Donna, Sat, 03 Nov 2018