|Hooded orioles at a feeder in Mission Viejo. Photo by Ken Carrier|
Hooded and Bullock's orioles are the two most common species of orioles that breed in Southern California. Both are medium-sized songbirds, about 8-inches long with slender bodies, long tail and a long, curved beak. They belong to the same family as blackbirds, grackles and cowbirds.
Orioles nest in California during the spring and summer, then return to their winter grounds in Mexico, and Central and South America in the fall.
Here's some tips for attracting orioles to your yard from the experts at Birds and Bloom:
- Start early. Your best chance of attracting orioles is when they first arrive in early spring.
- Use the same nectar recipe for orioles as you do for hummingbirds-four parts boiled water to one part sugar. Keep nectar fresh, and don’t use food coloring.
- These birds are attracted to the color orange, so look for a sugar-water feeder specifically designed for orioles.
- Make sure your feeder has large enough perches and drinking ports. It’s not unusual for orioles to try hummingbird feeders, but their bills are often too big. Orioles love the color and taste of oranges. Offer orange halves on a branch or feeder. Orioles will also eat grape jelly. Serve the jelly in an open dish or cup, and keep it fresh.
- When placing the oriole feeder in your yard, think like a bird. Instead of hiding the feeder under an awning or tree, put it out in the open so the birds can see it while flying overhead.
- Hang your feeder near a birdbath. If your bath has a bubbler, even better. Orioles love the sight and sound of moving water.
- Put out yarn and string. Orioles and other backyard songbirds will use it for their nests.
- If you don’t attract orioles in your first year, keep at it. It often takes several seasons to find a following.