Because of their strikingly beautiful black and orange or yellow plumage, their distinctive whistle, spring songs, and their amazing suspended nest, orioles are quickly becoming one of North America's favourite birds. While over eight species of Orioles can regularly be seen in the United States and Canada, in southern Ontario, we typically see the Baltimore Oriole.
Except for in the U.S. Southeast, all Orioles are tropical migrants. While migrations vary from year to year, Orioles generally arrive in Ontario in mid- to late May. It is very important that you have Oriole feeders up and ready, or often they will pass you by for better feeding grounds. It is equally important to have nesting materials out and ready to help encourage Orioles to nest in your yard. Although studies are still being done on how much we can tempt Orioles to nest in backyards, by summer’s end, migrating Orioles are headed back south to their tropical winter homes in Central and South America. It does appear that Baltimore Orioles ranges are expanding, while Bullocks and Orchard Orioles are declining. All Orioles need and benefit from your help.
Orioles migrate at night so they are tired, cold, and hungry when they arrive in your yard. If you wait until you see them, you can be too late to attract maximum numbers of Orioles to your yard. Oranges are one of the keys to attracting Orioles: Cut oranges in half and provide them “juicy side out”.
You can also attract Orioles up close by offering Oriole nectar, jelly, and fruit on feeders by the house and patio. Many people feed jelly year round, as not only Orioles, but Woodpeckers, Robins, Warblers, and others enjoy it. Grape jellies are usually the most effective - we have a special BirdBerry Jelly available in our stores. Its combination of all natural grape and blackberry has proven to attract more birds. Visit our website to browse some of the varieties of Oriole feeders available.
Where nesting material is available, Orioles will defend an area of several acres and start building a pendulous nest. You can help encourage them by offering long strips of twine or horse hair. A good way to provide nesting material for birds is the Birdie Bell.
Orioles make a pendulous nest with the females normally taking 5-8 days to do all the weaving. The male defends their territory and occasionally checks out the construction of the nest, but offers little help or expertise. The nest may be as much as 8 inches in length and is often supported from the tips of branches that hang out over open areas such as rivers or roads. The female will lay 4-5 pale gray to bluish eggs, which she alone will incubate until they hatch in 12-14 days. Both parents feed the babies until they fledge in another 12-14 days. By summer’s end, all will have departed for a warm winter stay in South America.