Apr 4, 2014 | 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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  • That doesn't address my concern about the bird houses. I'm on a tiny piece of property (40x100) so there's not much room to plant a heck of a lot or places birds could put nests once the bird houses are gone.
    by Linda DiPierro, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • Plant some native plants in your yard that will attract pollinators and produce berries and nuts. There should be a local society that has a list of recommended plants, shrubs, and trees.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • Same concerns here. See above post. For your situation I would consider planting a few native plants that will naturally produce berries and seeds that the birds in your area need to survive. Try planting some that will yield foods for all seasons.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • I've thought about this myself. One thing I considered doing is leaving behind some bird food and a gift card to my local wild bird store with a note asking the new homeowners to please continue feeding the birds. Don't know how well that work but it's worth a try.
    by Ladylanita, Mon, 25 May 2020
  • thanks for the article. I believe that I may have spotted my first hairy woodpecker this morning. we see the downy woodpecker often. it's small. the hairy woodpecker, when compared with the downy, is HUGE. also, the downy feeds at the feeder like most birds--standing upright. This bird, because of its size, hung from the feeder perch with most of it's body below the feeder--like the red belly woodpeckers that we see often. we live is strasburg va. is it possible that we saw a hairy woodpecker this morning?
    by PEretired, Sat, 23 May 2020