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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Attracting Orioles to your Backyard

I know I promised this post a week ago, and I apologize, but it is better late than never.  So by now you may have spotted the beautiful orange birds flitting around the country side, so I thought i would give you some tips on how to attract them to your yard.

Orioles especially love sweet juices and nectar.  They love fruiting bushes with ripe berries, so planting any of your native shrubs: Viburnum sp., Amelanchier sp., Vaccinimum sp., or Cornus sp. is a great start to attracting the orioles to your yard. The shrubs offer food and shelter in the same boat.  You can also create a "plate" of various fruits that will certainly attract orioles.  Halved oranges and other citrus fruits, or bowls of jelly are sure to bring orioles to your yard. You may however also bring unwanted pests so monitor your fruit offerings closely.  

It is also important to have a shallow water source for the birds. Some people also like to leave out nesting material, yarn or old animal hair are two types of material that orioles will use in their nests.  If your animals are shedding like mine currently are you should have plenty of hair to go around!

I have found oriole nest in predominantly willow, oak, or sycamore trees.  They will not use nesting boxes but they are not that specific to the type of tree. However, planting a few of one of the aforementioned species is a great way to attract orioles to nest in your yard.  Orioles have a very unique nest as shown in the below photograph.  

 They build one of the most complicated nests in the bird world.  The nests are typically very high up in the tree and hang below the branch to create a cradle effect for their young when the wind blows.  They will return to a similar location from year to year, and use the favorite parts of their old nest to build a new nest.  The nests are typically out on the limb fairly far from the main trunk of the tree, except in places of high wind where they seem to have adapted their nest site selection to closer to the tree.  

The Orioles both have very pretty and recognizable songs.  The bird in both photographs is the male.   Notice the coloration difference between the two orioles most commonly found in SE PA for the males.  The females are more difficult to tell apart as you can see from the photographs below.

Click HERE for a great link to a video of a Baltimore Oriole singing
Click HERE for a great link to a video of an Orchard Oriole singing. 

Orchard Oriole Female

Baltimore Oriole Female

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