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What Do Orioles Eat

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Oriole birds often cause a bit of confusion amongst bird lovers because the species list can vary slightly based on what bird record you follow.  In the Old World genus of Oriolus, there are about 30 different species of this bird.  But in the New World genus, these 30 bird species fall under the Icetirdae family. 


In either case, the males of these groups are known for their bright yellow or orange bodies with black heads and many of them do have a bit of white on their wings or heads. 


These birds are not easy to see because they do tend to be shy.  If you want to lure these birds out into your garden you definitely should do a bit of research on the type of foods they enjoy eating.


What Do Orioles Eat

All oriole species are carnivores but there are a few of these species that do consume some plant foods and as such are considered omnivores.  The omnivore orioles do however keep their plant food intake very limited.  Here is a quick look at the top foods these birds enjoy eating;



Insects are oriole bird’s main food source.  90% of their diet consists of insects. They need to consume lots of insects daily to get the needed nutrients and protein to stay healthy.  


Orioles especially depend on insects during nesting season because young birds require more protein to grow.  These birds will consume a huge variety of insects such as mealworms, wasps, moths, grasshoppers, beetles, bees, spiders, and a great many other types of insects. 


If you want to lure more orioles to your garden then it is important to stop spraying pesticides in your garden.  With more insect life in your garden, these birds will have much more to eat.



Orioles do have quite a sweet tooth.  These birds often feed on nectar-rich plants.  They are also attracted by hummingbird feeders and will consume commercial or homemade nectar.


If you want to make nectar for your oriole feeder you can bring four parts water and one part sugar to a boil, allow the mixture to cool down, and offer it to your orioles.  Some commercial nectar also includes orange dye to attract birds to these feeders.



Orioles will feed on a variety of flowers that produce nectar.  They are attracted to the sweet scent of flowers like petunias, honeysuckle, bleeding hearts, and others.  These birds mainly focus on the nectar of these flowers but have been known to consume the flowers and flower buds of nectar-rich flowers.    



Orioles enjoy eating a variety of tasty sweet fruits.  They will consume a variety of foods like oranges, apples, peaches, pears, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, and many others.


Orioles love sweet fruits but they cannot survive on just fruits alone. They enjoy the taste of fruits but still need lots of protein foods like insects to survive.  


It is important not to offer oriole birds commercial fruit juices like orange juice.  These commercial juices contain lots of preservatives, added sugars, and other ingredients that could be harmful to a bird’s digestive system.  



Oriole birds will consume a little bit of bread or similar baked foods.  They love to eat kitchen scraps like cookie and rusk crumbs, bread crumbs, pieces of cake, and other types of bread-like foods.  While it is perfectly safe to offer orioles some of these foods, you should try to keep these foods limited.  



Orioles love to eat jelly.  They are especially fond of grape jelly and orange marmalade.  This is one of the easiest and most effective foods to offer these birds if you want to lure them to your garden for observation.  The smoother the grape jelly or orange marmalade is the better.


Oriole birds will also feed on other jellies like cherry, strawberry, apple or raspberry jams, and jellies.  It is probably best not to offer too much jelly to orioles.  They still need to seek other foods to maintain good health. 


It is also important not to offer sugar-free jellies or jellies that contain sugar substitutes.  These birds need lots of energy to get through the day and artificial sugars can be harmful to their digestive systems.  



Orioles are not particularly fond of vegetables.  But they do enjoy consuming peas.  They will eat these veggies fresh, frozen, or dried.  This is a great food to offer orioles at bird feeders.  



Orioles need lots of fresh water to stay healthy. They also enjoy taking an occasional bath in birdbaths or shallow water puddles.  A great way to offer water to these birds is by installing a nice and large, yet shallow, birdbath in your garden.  Birdbaths are ideal for observing these beautiful bright birds.  


Oriole Diet Variations

Oriole birds can have quite a few diet variations.  They are driven by smell and will sample any foods that smell sweet or tasty.  They will consume odd foods like peanut butter and others that might not be fruits.


These birds can also consume dangerous insects like spiders.  They are however much more fond of safer insects like worms, flies, or moths. 


How to Feed Orioles

Getting these birds to start visiting your garden isn’t going to be easy in the beginning.  These birds can be a bit shy.  


To lure orioles to your bird feeders you should first stop applying pesticides.  With more insect life in your garden, these birds will be much more likely to visit.  You can offer other foods on bird feeders but 90% of their diet consists of insects and they do need the protein to stay healthy.  You can also choose to offer insects like mealworms at bird feeders to attract them to your garden.


An easy way to lure them to your garden is with nectar feeders.  They love the sweet smell of sugar water.  Nectar feeders will give them a spike in energy and will encourage them to visit more often.


You can also offer orioles fresh-cut fruits.  The best way to offer these foods is by adding them to a spike feeder so these birds can peck these sweet fruits with ease.  


If you want to treat them to something extra tasty then put out a dish with a little bit of jelly near your feeders.  They are very fond of jellies.


It is very important to remember to replace fresh foods like fruits and jams daily.  Spoiled fruits are not healthy for these birds at all. 


How Much Do Orioles Eat

The proportion of food these birds eat can differ by season.  


In the summertime, these birds need to feed their young.  They will focus more on insects since their chicks need lots of protein for growth.  They also need a lot more food since they are feeding little ones.  


In spring and fall, these birds tend to consume more nectar and fruits.  This is because sweet fruits are easier to convert into fat so they can gain body mass for harsh winters.  They also rely on body fat as energy for migration.  


What Do Baby Orioles Eat

Oriole chicks are fed by their parents. While chicks are growing, the parents will focus mainly on insects because this protein source boosts the growth of chicks.  Oriole birds will catch and regurgitate insects to their chicks when they are still small.  As they grow, the parents might choose to offer larger or even whole pieces of insects to their chicks.


When the chicks are ready to leave the nest, they are not fully independent from their parents just yet. The parents will now spend some time teaching their chicks how to catch insects, identify fruits, or eat flowers. Many bird watchers noticed that these birds do show their chicks on how to feed at nectar feeders or bird feeders.  


As the chicks grow, they will learn to catch their own insects until they are old and agile enough to survive all on their own.  


What Do Orioles Eat Naturally

In nature, orioles only eat what they find in their habitat.  They consume 90% of insects and will eat a great variety of insects. 

These birds are very handy for keeping insect numbers under control in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem. 


Orioles will also eat wild fruits they find in nature.  This can be any type of sweet fruit such as prickly pears, figs, wild berries, and a great many others.  Orioles can also be a pest to farmers because they can cause significant damage to fruit farms.  


In nature, these birds are not likely to find jams, jellies, or nectar feeders. But they will still collect sweet nectar from flowers they find in their habitat.  


Do Orioles Eat Seeds

You cannot attract orioles to your garden using a traditional bird feeder.  These birds do not eat seeds.  They are not likely to visit a traditional bird feeder.  Their digestive system isn’t designed to handle seeds but they can occasionally consume nut butter such as peanut butter. 


How Do You Feed Orioles Grape Jelly

These birds love sweet treats.  Grape jelly is their absolute favorite jelly.  It is quite simple to offer jelly to orioles in your garden.  


You can simply place a bit of jelly on a plate and put it close to your bird feeder.  Other birds that feed on seeds will show orioles that it is a safe area for feeding and might encourage them to come out of hiding. 


These birds are attracted by sweet scents.  When they smell the jelly, they will come forth and investigate in your garden. 

They will eat the jelly right off the plate.


It is important to clean spent jelly off the plate every day.  If you leave leftover jams and jellies, these foods can go off which can affect the health of oriole birds negatively.  Leaving jelly out will also attract ants.  


If you want to avoid getting ants in your foods then you can also try to hang the plate with jelly in a tree.  This way the birds can still reach their snacks and you won’t have to struggle with ants quite as much.  


When Should You Stop Feeding Orioles

Orioles are migrating birds.  It is important to continue to encourage these birds to migrate as usual.  If they do not migrate on time or choose to stay at your bird feeder all winter, they might not have access to enough insects which can cause them to starve.  The cold temperature of winter in your region could also be too chilly for their bodies to handle and they could freeze to death.


It is important to stop feeding your orioles before the migration season starts.  This is so they can learn that there isn’t food in their location anymore and it can encourage them to move on to warmer areas.


You can reduce the amount of food you offer to orioles in early-autumn.  Keep reducing food offerings as the season gets colder.  By the end of autumn, these birds should have already moved on to a warmer climate.  It is best to stop offering foods entirely by mid-autumn so these birds won’t miss migration or die if they decide to migrate too late.  



Orioles are beautiful and bright birds.  It is a great joy to see them bounce around in your garden.  These birds are also welcome visitors to most homeowners because they are a terrific natural pest control method since they consume so many insects.  


It can be good to treat these birds to some sweet foods to encourage them to visit your garden more often.  But it is also very important to stop feeding these birds at the right time so they can move on to a warmer location before winter starts.  


With the right foods and the right care methods, you can lure many orioles to your garden so you can marvel at their beauty and you will know when it is time for you to stop offering foods so your food offerings won’t end up resulting in their death when winter sets in.   

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