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Attract The Hooded Oriole to West Coast Yards and Parks

Updated on February 20, 2017
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Sherry has been writing about home, family and pets since 2008. She enjoys retirement, traveling, reading and honing her writing skills.

Bullock's Oriole
Bullock's Oriole | Source

Get Ready for the Hooded Oriole

Hooded Orioles are an orange yellow blackbird sized bird that flies 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 for attracting the oriole bird early. This practice is essential for attracting the hooded oriole, and orchard oriole to your yard for study and enjoyment.

I decided to collect information about orioles the year I missed the flyover window. The next year I had the Internet research done early in January 2011 and I am going to try very diligently to attract the hooded oriole to my yard and enjoy their colorful flights. If you live along the coast of Western U.S. look for hooded orioles, and the Scott's oriole in the southwest dessert.

If you live in Eastern U.S. look for the Baltimore oriole and the orchard oriole. The other four of the nine oriole birds of the United States are rare.

All the tips outlined here to attract orioles applies to all of them and do not give up if you are unlucky the first year. I found out that these orange-like birds like the color orange and juicy fruits. No need for messy seeds.

Our first hooded oriole. They do enjoy jelly too.
Our first hooded oriole. They do enjoy jelly too.

How to Attract Orioles

Early April, 2015: first oriole spotted in the yard.

Hearing a rattle I turned my head and there I saw a hooded oriole in the bougainvillea bush. Bright yellow-orange with 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 bit skittish and hardly sit for a few seconds before they fly off to somewhere else. I took this photo with telephoto about 35 feet away.

Attract orioles with the same sugar water you would use for hummingbirds. The nectar does not need to be orange. Orange sugar water feeders are available with appropriate feeding stations and perches modified for the birds weight and thin dark beaks. In areas where this bird is numerous observers probably have seen the oriole at their hummingbird feeder.

Orioles in the wild eat bugs, especially for feeding the newly hatched chicks. Meal worms can be offered as a king's meal. They are expensive at your local pet store. I know we have bugs to offer in our yard because I see the Western bluebirds and the Black Phoebe going for them with their swooping dive and slight flutter.

The oriole favor orange halves or slices, as well as grape jelly that can be offered on a dish or a shallow cup. Try soaked raisins too. Raisins are inexpensive.

The Information From Audubon

The hooded orioles are back in 2016. They feed from the orange oriole feeder and the jelly feeder that we made especially for the orioles. The Audubon website added a very interesting map about hooded oriole migration. Check it out at Audubon's Birds and Climate Change Report

One fact learned from the Audubon link above is the effects of global warming is pushing the summer ranges of North American birds north. In 2000 the hooded oriole was not as prevalent here in So Cal as it is in 2015. A danger of this trend is can the new ranges support the birds?

This is one reason to welcome the oriole bird into our yards. If you live near natural water that is even better. We need to support the wilding of the LA River and other locals like Legg Lake, Puddingstone and the watershed near Santa Fe Dam.

Oriole Bird Feeders

Most of the oriole feeders are orange and include the features that attract orioles the most. 2015 we saw your feeders being used by the hooded oriole. A big event that was recorded in my bird book. The orioles enjoy this feeder. Use the same sugar water you use for the hummingbirds. The only thing I do not like about this feeder is the globe quickly turns a dull yellow.

Oriole Arrival Times for the West Coast

  • Arizona

    Mid March
  • Southern California

    Arrivals start in March 10th and may last till early May.
  • Northern California

    Look for the first arrivals March 15th. The majority will arrive in early and mid-April.
  • Oregon

    Mid- to late April.
  • Canada

    Mid to late May will have Bullock's Orioles arriving.
  • Colorado, Wyoming and Montana

    See them in mid-May.
  • Get more information at your local Aububon chapter. Audubon Chapter Locator.

Lord Baltimore Coat of Arms
Lord Baltimore Coat of Arms

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.

Our 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.

Epgyian Hall Piccadilly from Wikimedia Commons
Epgyian Hall Piccadilly from Wikimedia Commons

Bullock's Oriole

The Bullock's Oriole is named for a British naturalist collector that made collecting a profit. Natural elements and biology was a popular entertainment and 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 his natural history collection and the Hall became an art display venue.

Bullock later continued his interest in natural history in central Mexico, as well as, dabbling in the silver market.

Oriole Nesting Habits

In natural settings orioles will built nests near running water. They choose high branches to weave intricate hanging bags that kept the brown purple veined light blue eggs deep in cover from predators. Orioles are smart enough to break the eggs of the lazy cowbird ensuring that their own chicks have a chance to grow.

One site mentioned that palms have been used for nesting. I am hoping the palms growing in our yard and several neighbor's backyards will encourage nesting. It is suggested that laying out short lengths of string and fiber will help. I am regularly cleaning out dried blades from several clumps of decorative grass. I simply lay some out on the green lawn for easy spotting. The pool waterfall that runs part of the day will be my water noise attraction.

Photo by Mike Hamilton at

I Have Ordered This Book - Info on the oriole bird

The Oriole Book
The Oriole Book

I enjoyed reading this book. Plenty of detailed information on oriole feeding and nesting habits. Detailed sections on Baltimore, Bullock's, Orchard, Scott's and Hooded Orioles.

The last chapter outlined concerns about cats, window strike hazards, pesticides, the sun grown coffee that does not provide good bird habitat, and electric light hazards for the nighttime migrating oriole. I learned some new and interesting facts.

The used books with the shipping were not any cheaper than using The Free Shipping method with the Oriole Bird Feeder that I ordered at the same time.

Bullock's Oriole and palm by Just chaos
Bullock's Oriole and palm by Just chaos

More Facts about the Bullock's Oriole

The western oriole birds are eight inch birds with 12 inch wing spans. 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 Baltimore oriole's southern migration starts as early as mid August.

Even though the Western orioles were in decline beginning in the 60's there is a slight rise the last two decades and I hope to see these lovely birds in my yard this year.

Female bullocks Oriole by J.N. Stuart
Female bullocks Oriole by J.N. Stuart

Baltimore and Bullock's Oriole Food Summary

Attract Orioles with a sugar water oriole feeder. Preferably in orange.

Orange halves.

grape jelly

I am going to try soaked raisins

a pool waterfall, gurgling pond or a 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.

Orchard Oriole Video and Sung

Bullock's Oriole

Bullock's Oriole
Bullock's Oriole

© 2011 Sherry Venegas

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  • buteoflyer2 profile image

    Kathie Miller 2 years ago from Southern California

    It is July 2014 and I saw one in my backyard yesterday in the Inland Empire. I started researching them and found your lens very helpful. I have orange halves hanging in a secluded corner of my garden hoping it will come back. I plan on replacing the orange halves until October, then try again starting in January. I've only seen these birds 3 other times in my lifetime and would like to get them to come in every year.

  • CherylsArt profile image

    Cheryl Paton 2 years ago from West Virginia

    Interesting. I grew up near Baltimore, but don't recall ever seeing an actual oriole.

  • profile image

    TanoCalvenoa 2 years ago

    Occasionally I see an oriole in my backyard in Southern California. I love it when they show up, but some years I don't see any. This year I've seen a few.

  • paperfacets profile image

    Sherry Venegas 3 years ago from La Verne, CA

    @anonymous: The scrub jays are probably bigger and certainly, they can be aggressive. I have had no luck attracting orioles to my yard or even seeing them. I think they tend to fly over the LA basin to quieter and wetter places.

  • profile image

    anonymous 3 years ago

    Thank you for the valuable information! I have been enjoying a pair this year off and on in my yard. That is when the scrub jays don't chase them off! I've been looking for ways to encourage them to stay. Now if I can chase off the jays...

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