Attract the Hooded Oriole to Your West Coast Yard or Garden

Updated on September 28, 2017
paperfacets profile image

Sherry has been writing about home, family, and pets since 2008. She enjoys retirement, traveling, reading, and honing her writing skills.

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 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. No need for messy seeds.

Attractions To Use For Orioles

  1. Attract Orioles with a sugar water feeder. Preferably in orange.
  2. Orange halves.
  3. Grape jelly
  4. Soaked raisins
  5. A pool waterfall, gurgling pond or a bubbly bird bath or fountain.
  6. Short strings or fibers for nest weaving
  7. 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 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 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 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

The hooded orioles are back in 2017. They feed from the orange oriole feeder and the jelly feeder that we made especially for the 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 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 is in 2015. The danger of this trend is; can the new ranges 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. 2015 we saw your 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 the globe quickly turns a dull yellow.

For a 2011 feeder search there were few choices. In 2017 the product field has expanded. Take some time to window shop on the major online stores.

Oriole Arrival Times for the West Coast

  • Arizona

    Mid March
  • Southern California

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

    Look for the first arrivals 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 Aububon 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.

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

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 eight inch birds with 12 inch wing spans. 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 oriole's southern migration starts as early as mid August.

4. Even though the Western orioles were in decline beginning in the 60's there is a slight rise the last two decades.

5. A Bullock sighting was made 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 from Wikimedia Commons
Egyptian Hall Piccadilly from Wikimedia Commons

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.

© 2011 Sherry Venegas


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 3 weeks 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 3 weeks 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 3 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.

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

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

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 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 image

      Sherry Venegas 4 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

      anonymous 4 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

      julieannbrady 6 years ago

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

    • profile image

      AzotaPhotography 6 years ago

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

    • efriedman profile image

      efriedman 6 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.

    • Lee Hansen profile image

      Lee Hansen 6 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!

    • paperfacets profile image

      Sherry Venegas 6 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.

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 6 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

      TapIn2U 7 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 ;-)