Bird watching can become a little addictive, especially when you have such unique birds coming to your house for a visit. Here in Canada, we have 3 species of Orioles. Only 2 of them live in Ontario – Baltimore Oriole and Orchard Oriole. The two birds have similar markings and are a little smaller than a Robin – about 9” from bill to tail tip. And we all know the males are always the more brightly coloured of the pair.
Female Orchard and female Baltimore orioles look quite a lot alike. They share a warm-hued chest, head and tail feathers, but the female Baltimore has touches of tangerine orange while the orchard’s color runs closer to greenish yellow. The male Baltimore oriole has a bright pop of orange, the orchard oriole sports a darker chestnut color. And the similarities continue with their diets which is very close to that of a Hummingbird.
Orioles are omnivores that eat both plants and animals. It is somewhat similar to a Hummingbirds diet. Orioles will migrate long distances to ensure they have a rich source of these foods all year round. The volume of plants or animals will vary depending on the season.
At about 90% of their diet, insects would be their main food source. Some of their favourite insects are Grasshoppers, Moths, Beetles, Bees, Crickets, Spiders, Wasps and Caterpillars.
Orioles also have an incredible sweet tooth. They love to indulge in berries, fruits, and nectar. These sweet treats provide the calories needed to sustain their busy schedules. Besides a rich source of energy, berries, fruits and nectar also provide important nutrients, fiber and water necessary for a healthy bird. Orioles enjoy many parts of the plant including the fruit, blossoms, and berries, but they go crazy over oranges and grape jelly. Some of the other fruits they enjoy would be bananas, crab apples, grapes, cherries, mulberries, blackberries and figs.
Baltimore Orioles have a special feeding technique known as ‘gaping’ they use when eating fruit. First, this involves them piercing the fruit with their mouth closed. They then open their mouth to create a gap in the fruit. This allows them to use their tongues to brush and scoop the flesh out of the fruit.
Of course, nectar is another sweet food source for Orioles. Unlike the Hummingbird that can hover over a flower to gather nectar, Orioles must rely on the sturdy flower stems or a nearby perch. Providing an Oriole feeder will ensure these nectar loving birds don’t go hungry. The Oriole feeders are coloured orange, which is the favourite colour of Orioles and does a great job of attracting them. They also have wider perches, making it possible for the Orioles to rest and feed comfortably. With the Oriole feeder, both Hummingbirds and Orioles can feast on the birdseeds, nectar mix, jellies you prepare, yet the ports are small enough to keep out the bees. The most bees can do is to stick their heads into the port, but they won’t be able to fit in at all.
Orchard Orioles may be a little harder to attract than their Baltimore cousins as they like to stay at the top of the trees, however, they can be enticed with a brightly coloured Oriole feeder full of nectar. Here are some options for you: