Attract the Hooded Oriole to Your West Coast Yard or Garden
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
- A sugar water feeder, preferably in orange.
- Orange halves.
- Grape jelly.
- Soaked raisins.
- A pool waterfall, gurgling pond, bubbly bird bath or fountain.
- Short strings or fibers for nest weaving.
Orioles are shy birds, so try your attraction secrets for a couple of years.
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.
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
Southern CaliforniaArrivals start around March 10th and may last till early May.
Northern CaliforniaLook for the first arrivals around March 15th. The majority will arrive in early and mid-April.
OregonMid- to late April.
CanadaMid- to late May will have Bullock's orioles arriving.
Colorado, Wyoming and MontanaSee them in mid-May.
Get more information at your local Audubon chapter: Audubon Chapter Locator.
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.
5 Facts About the Bullock's Oriole
- 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.
- It takes more than two weeks to construct their nests.
- Their nesting season is short, and the oriole's southern migration starts as early as mid-August.
- Even though the Western orioles were in decline beginning in the '60s, there is a slight rise in the last two decades.
- 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.
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.Helpful 10
© 2011 Sherry Venegas