Attract the Hooded Oriole to Your West Coast Yard or Garden

Updated on April 30, 2019
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Sherry has been writing about home, family, and pets since 2008. She enjoys retirement, traveling, reading, and crafts.

Bullock's Oriole and nest by Jeff Rich
Bullock's Oriole and nest by Jeff Rich | Source

Get Ready for the Hooded Oriole

Hooded orioles are orange-yellow and blackbird-sized, and they migrate north each year to the Western U.S. from Mexico and Central America. Look for them starting in mid-March. It is important to do your ground work early for attracting the bird. Just some simple tricks will lure the hooded oriole to your yard for study and enjoyment.

On the West Coast, you should look for the Bullock's oriole. If you live in the eastern U.S., look for the Baltimore oriole and the orchard oriole. The other five of the nine in the United States are rare.

All the tips outlined here attract the different variants, so do not give up if you are unlucky the first year. I found out that these orange birds like the color orange and juicy fruits. There's no need for messy seeds.

Attractions To Use For Orioles

  1. A sugar water feeder, preferably in orange.
  2. Orange halves.
  3. Grape jelly.
  4. Soaked raisins.
  5. A pool waterfall, gurgling pond, bubbly bird bath or fountain.
  6. Short strings or fibers for nest weaving.

Orioles are shy birds, so try your attraction secrets for a couple of years.

Hooded oriole in LA County backyard
Hooded oriole in LA County backyard

How to Attract Orioles

Our work started in 2011, and in early April 2015, we had the first oriole sighting.

Hearing a rattle, I turned my head, and there I saw a hooded oriole in the bougainvillea bush. Bright yellow-orange with a black bib. My husband heard and saw it two days later drinking from the sugar water feeder.

Their rattle is very distinctive and always lets us know when we can see them in the yard. These birds are skittish and hardly sit for a few seconds before they are off to somewhere else. I took this photo with a telephoto lens at 35 feet.

Attract orioles with the same sugar water you would use for hummingbirds. The nectar does not need to be orange. Orange feeders are available with feeding stations and perches modified for the bigger bird's weight and thin black beaks.

Orioles in the wild eat bugs, especially for feeding the new chicks. Meal worms can be offered as a king's meal, but they are expensive at your local pet store.

Birders have found orioles favor grape jelly set out in shallow cups. Try soaked raisins, too. Raisins are inexpensive.

Hooded Oriole Song

The Information From Audubon

We continued to see the hooded orioles in 2017. They fed from the orange oriole feeder and the jelly feeder that we made especially for them. The Audubon website added a very interesting map about hooded oriole migration. Check it out at Audubon's Birds and Climate Change Report.

The map illustrates the fact that summer ranges of North American birds are going further north each year. In 2000, the hooded oriole was not as prevalent here in SoCal as it was in 2015. The danger of this trend is whether the new ranges can support the birds.

This is one reason to welcome birds into our yards. Making your neighborhoods bird-friendly is as vital as nature's habitats.

Bird Feeders

Most feeders are orange and include the features that attract these bigger birds. In 2015, we saw our feeders being used for the first time—a big event that was recorded in my life list book. The orioles enjoy this feeder. The only thing I do not like about it is how the globe quickly turns a dull yellow.

When we searched for feeders in 2011, there were few choices. By 2017, the product field had expanded. Take some time to window shop on the major online stores.

Oriole Arrival Times for the West Coast

  • Arizona

  • Southern California

    Arrivals start around March 10th and may last till early May.
  • Northern California

    Look for the first arrivals around March 15th. The majority will arrive in early and mid-April.
  • Oregon

    Mid- to late April.
  • Canada

    Mid- to late May will have Bullock's orioles arriving.
  • Colorado, Wyoming and Montana

    See them in mid-May.

Get more information at your local Audubon chapter: Audubon Chapter Locator.

Dishes for grape jelly. Feeder made from scrap wood.
Dishes for grape jelly. Feeder made from scrap wood.

Nesting Habits

In natural settings, orioles will build nests near running water. They use high branches to weave intricate hanging bags that keep the brown/purple-veined light blue eggs deep under cover from predators.

Nests have been seen on LA County palm trees. Palms growing in our yard and several neighbor's backyards will encourage nesting. Make visible lengths of string or fiber from decorative grasses to attract the birds.

More Information

The Oriole Book
The Oriole Book
This book is an enjoyable read. Plenty of detailed information on oriole feeding and nesting habits. Detailed sections on Baltimore, Bullock's, Orchard, Scott's and Hooded Orioles. The last chapter outlined concerns about cats, window strike hazards, pesticides, the sun grown coffee that does not provide good bird habitat. There are electric light hazards for the nighttime migrating oriole. I learned some new and interesting facts.
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Page from The Oriole Book
Page from The Oriole Book
Page from The Oriole Book

5 Facts About the Bullock's Oriole

  1. Western orioles are 8-inch birds with 12-inch wingspans. The colors are orange, white and black with a long pointed bill for catching bugs and sipping nectar from flowers in their southern range.
  2. It takes more than two weeks to construct their nests.
  3. Their nesting season is short, and the oriole's southern migration starts as early as mid-August.
  4. Even though the Western orioles were in decline beginning in the '60s, there is a slight rise in the last two decades.
  5. I made a Bullock sighting in SoCal in spring 2017 at a homemade jelly feeder.

The Baltimore Oriole Bird of Color

New World birds and animals received many of their names from Europe due to the extensive exploring and collecting the Europeans did when the world opened to them.

North American orioles are not orioles like the European ones, but belong to the blackbird family.

Eastern orioles are named after George Calvert, first of a line of Lord Baltimores in the British colonies. He established colonies in Newfoundland and Maryland.

His Coat of Arms has the colors orange-yellow and black which the State of Maryland adapted for its state flag.

Egyptian Hall Piccadilly
Egyptian Hall Piccadilly | Source

Bullock's Oriole

The Bullock's Oriole is named for a British naturalist collector that made collecting a for profit business. Nature and biology was popular entertainment and a curiosity in the early 19th century. William Bullock built the Egyptian Hall on Piccadilly Square in London in 1812 to house his natural history collection. There were more than 32,000 items to display. He charged for admission.

In 1816 his success of displaying Napoleon's carriage taken from Waterloo was so popular, Bullock auctioned off his natural history collection. The Hall became an art display venue.

Bullock later continued his interest in natural history in central Mexico.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

  • When do Hooded Orioles start migrating south to Mexico for the winter? Also, should I increase the sugar in the nectar for them like I do for the Hummingbirds?

    The sugar nectar should be the same as your hummingbirds. Orioles head south rather early. Mid-August is the general start time and by the end of summer you may not see this beautiful bird again until next year. Remember that they come back around mid-March, so get your grape jelly supply out in early spring.

© 2011 Sherry Venegas


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    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      5 weeks ago from La Verne, CA

      We have palms, but no nests to observe. I wished we had, I hear the nests are like bags hanging down from the frond.

    • profile image

      Kara R 

      5 weeks ago

      Have two families in my yard in Hesperia, CA. They nest in the palm trees. Got to get some good pictures of a baby last year when it left the nest. There were two babies teetering on the edge of the nest, one didn’t make it from the palm tree over the pool to the bushes, had to pick it up off the edge of the pool deck and sit it in the Bush with the rest of the family. Glad to see them back, we look for them every spring. We love them!

    • profile image

      Sheri Mako 

      10 months ago

      We live in Temecila, CA. This is our second year feeding the orioles. We give them sugar water, grape jelly and mealworms. We have 2 families.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      We just saw our first hooded oriole at our hummingbird feeder this morning! We live in the Napa Valley.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      16 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Hi Julian, how exciting and interesting to get such a front row seat. We get a few pairs at the feeder, but have not seen any nest in the palms or anywhere near our yard. I would love to post a youtube video if you are so lucky this year to catch the action.

    • profile image

      Julian Hicks 

      16 months ago

      We have been feeding 3-4 pairs for the last couple of years in San Diego. We had one pair nest between our screen door and a roll-down blind. They wove their nest between the two surfaces and had 3 babies. Hoping they will do the same again this year, so I can mount a GoPro and catch the entire show. Would be happy to pass on videos and pics

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      23 months ago from La Verne, CA

      Pauline, Yes they have a very distinctive call.

    • profile image

      Pauline Luft 

      23 months ago

      I just saw my first Hooded/Bullocks Oriole in San Jose, CA! I heard it’s song and knew it wasn’t a bird I’ve heard or seen in my backyard before. It must have been a male because it was a vibrant yellow and black.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      2 years ago from La Verne, CA

      John. The orioles are shy and I see the feeder pitching, as you mentioned, more than I see them. I know they are in the yard because of the distinct rattle of their call. I am wondering why we never saw them in decades past.

    • profile image

      John R 

      2 years ago

      I started seeing these beautiful birds in my backyard about 8 year's ago. I didn't pay much attention because I thought all the Hummingbirds that I was feeding were just drinking all the nectar out of the 6 feeder's, but I had 1 feeder that I noticed that there was always nectar on the floor or I would see the feeder pitching. One day I was up early and that's when I saw a beautiful coloured Male Oriole, then I started noticing them sometimes I would see up to 5 to 7 different Bird's so I eventually bought a Oriole feeder and since then I have them in my backyard and the love jelly but so do the Bee's. I live in Orange county in So Ca. And I do consider these Bird's part of the family because during there stay you helping to sustain them.

    • buteoflyer2 profile image

      Kathie Miller 

      5 years ago from Southern California

      It is July 2014 and I saw one in my backyard yesterday in the Inland Empire. I started researching them and found your lens very helpful. I have orange halves hanging in a secluded corner of my garden hoping it will come back. I plan on replacing the orange halves until October, then try again starting in January. I've only seen these birds 3 other times in my lifetime and would like to get them to come in every year.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Interesting. I grew up near Baltimore, but don't recall ever seeing an actual oriole.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Occasionally I see an oriole in my backyard in Southern California. I love it when they show up, but some years I don't see any. This year I've seen a few.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      7 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @anonymous: The scrub jays are probably bigger and certainly, they can be aggressive. I have had no luck attracting orioles to my yard or even seeing them. I think they tend to fly over the LA basin to quieter and wetter places.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Thank you for the valuable information! I have been enjoying a pair this year off and on in my yard. That is when the scrub jays don't chase them off! I've been looking for ways to encourage them to stay. Now if I can chase off the jays...

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Such a delightful presentation on the oriole bird. Love it!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Probably a little late for me at this point, but something for me to plan for next year.

    • efriedman profile image


      9 years ago

      Thanks for including arrival times for orioles in different areas. Btw, I used to live in Southern California. We occasionally (rarely) had orioles in our back yard on a canyon. But my husband regularly saw them in Eucalyptus trees in parking lots of business parks, especially in Rancho Bernardo area. There were orange trees, jacaranda and a fountain nearby, too. Wonder if they attracted the orioles.

    • paperfacets profile imageAUTHOR

      Sherry Venegas 

      9 years ago from La Verne, CA

      @Lee Hansen: Lee, lucky you are. I did see one oriole a few years ago. Will be trying again.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 

      9 years ago from Vermont

      The orioles have returned to our backyard habitat. They first showed up a few years ago and enjoyed the fruit we put out for them and the robins. Since then we think their offspring return to raise a family in the old homestead. This year we have at least 2 pair, and sometimes we witness a bit of a turf fight. So exciting to spot them high in a tree as they call out!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 

      9 years ago from Colorado

      The orioles have arrived here at my mountain home along with the hummers. Last year I was caught unprepared, as the orioles tried to feed on the hummingbird feeders. This year I am ready. I purchased an oriole feeder which allows me to provide nectar and grape jelly. Of course, they still try to use the hummingbird feeders!

    • TapIn2U profile image


      9 years ago

      Does this work? I want to try it! These birds are gorgeous and to see them fly around my yard for just a few minutes will be thrilling. Thanks for the ideas! Hey, Iâve just finished my second lens on a 3-step plan to achieve your Goals and New Years Resolutions.When you have a moment, I would love to hear what you think. If you have a suggestion- please let me know. Iâm learning as I go and so appreciate your help. Sundae ;-)


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