Among the brightest songbirds around, orioles are found in all the states east of the Great Plains, and by mid-spring, they’re busy constructing their hanging nests high in trees in preparation for raising a brood of young orioles. For many bird lovers, the unmistakable lilting chirp of the oriole is a treasured part of summer, so many provide food for these dazzling birds in the hope of having them as summer neighbors.
Unlike most birds, orioles don’t eat seeds, so choosing the best oriole feeder requires knowing the types of food these colorful birds prefer as well as the kind of feeder that attracts them. Ahead, learn how to select an oriole feeder and find out why the following top picks are well suited for attracting these vibrant birds.
- BEST OVERALL: Songbird Essentials Ultimate Oriole Feeder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Birds Choice Flower Oriole Bird Feeder Small Orange
- BEST JELLY FEEDER: Perky-Pet Oriole Jelly Wild Bird Feeder, Red
- MOST ECO-FRIENDLY: AmishToyBox.com Amish-Made Oriole Bird Feeder
- BEST EASY VIEW: Heath Outdoor Products Clementine Oriole Feeder
- BEST COMPACT: Heath Outdoor Products Citrus Buffet Oriole Feeder
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Oriole Feeder
Orioles have specific feeding preferences, ranging from the color of the feeder to its contents. Orioles migrate south in the winter, so don’t plan to attract them to a winter feeder. However, plan to put out food as soon as the weather warms in spring to entice them to build their nests nearby.
Placing the feeder near a birdbath increases the odds of attracting orioles. When the temperature is still chilly in early spring, consider adding a birdbath heater to provide water to early nesting orioles.
Oriole feeders hold varying amounts of food. A feeder with one or two feeding stations is sufficient for a pair of nesting orioles and their young. Unless many orioles are in the vicinity, start with a single small feeder and then add on if necessary. If only one or two orioles visit the feeder, the food in a multi-station feeder can attract insects and become caked with dirt and debris before being eaten.
Oriole feeders come in various materials, including durable molded plastic, glass, wood, and metal elements. When selecting a feeder, opt for a material that can withstand the elements.
- Plastic feeders are inexpensive, and depending on the plastic’s quality, they can last one or two seasons. Locating a plastic feeder in a shady spot protects the material from harsh sun rays and prolongs its useful life.
- Glass feeders typically feature a single glass element, such as a glass dish or glass reservoir. Glass is easy to sterilize and reuse.
- Wood, a traditional material for many feeders, is often combined with glass or metal elements. The best wood feeders come in weather-resistant woods, such as cedar and redwood, that can naturally withstand the elements.
- Metal elements, such as a metal holder for a glass dish or a metal spike to secure half of an orange, are common on oriole feeders. Look for a coated metal element that resists rust and corrosion.
Orioles are notorious for having a sweet tooth, and the best way to attract an oriole to the yard is to offer the sugary foods it loves. This requires selecting a specific type of feeder.
- Jelly feeders: Grape jelly is an all-time oriole favorite, and jelly feeders feature glass or plastic dishes or depressions that hold the jelly. Of course, squirrels also enjoy jelly, so consider locating the feeder where they can’t access it or purchasing an anti-squirrel baffle to keep them away.
- Nectar feeders: Like hummingbirds, orioles love sweet nectar, but the feeding ports in a hummingbird feeder are too narrow for an oriole to sip the sweet liquid. Instead of relying on a hummingbird feeder to attract orioles, purchase a feeder specifically designed for orioles. Hummingbirds can use oriole feeders, but not vice versa.
- Fruit feeders: Orioles are attracted to fresh, sweet oranges, and a fruit feeder provides two or more spears, each designed to hold half an orange with the cut side facing outward.
- Mealworm feeders: When oriole eggs hatch and baby birds fill the nest in early summer, adult orioles seek protein sources to feed the fledglings. While the birds will catch insects if nothing else is available, they prefer mealworms—small dehydrated worms with a high protein concentration. Wash out the same dishes or depressions used for jelly and fill them with mealworms.
Orioles are not only naturally attracted to oranges (the fruit), but they also like bright orange colors. Most oriole feeders feature at least some orange coloring, and many are entirely orange. Avoid buying a yellow feeder, as that color attracts wasps.
Ease of Cleaning
Unlike seed-type feeders that can be filled and refilled multiple times without cleaning, oriole feeders need frequent cleaning to remove sticky jelly and nectar residue. Many oriole feeders contain removable dishes that lift out of the feeder for washing so users don’t have to take down the entire feeder to clean it.
Our Top Picks
To qualify as a top pick, an oriole feeder should feature the color orange, and it should have one or more feeding stations that hold jelly, nectar, a cut orange, or mealworms. While the best oriole feeder varies depending on the number of birds in the vicinity, it should be durable, have a spot for the birds to perch while eating, and be easy to clean. Any one of the following oriole feeders can help attract the bright-colored birds and offer access to the foods they love.
Hungry orioles can spot the bright orange color of the Songbird Essentials Ultimate Oriole Feeder. The feeder’s 12-inch round design allows several birds to perch at once, while each enjoys jelly from a bowl, nectar from a port, or fresh-cut oranges held in place by spikes. It holds up to 1 quart of nectar in addition to jelly and oranges.
The feeder is made from durable plastic that wipes clean, but to clean it, it’s best to take it down and rinse it inside and out. Clean it regularly and change out any remaining nectar at least once a week. A built-in ant moat fills with water to help reduce pest problems. Resembling a hummingbird feeder, this Songbird Essentials feeder offers plenty of spots for multiple orioles, and it comes with a hook for easy hanging.
Attract bright-colored orioles to the backyard without spending a fortune. The Birds Choice Flower Oriole Bird Feeder comes with a bright orange plastic bowl for holding grape jelly, and it includes two spikes, each designed to hold an orange half.
The feeder is large enough to allow one or two orioles to feed simultaneously, and the jelly bowl is removable for easy cleaning and refilling. The dome-shaped wire hanger has a loop at the top to suspend it from a hook or nail, and a sparkling orange crystal hangs at the top of the feeder, providing an additional flash of bright orange to help attract orioles. Best of all, this feeder comes at an attractive price point.
The Perky-Pet Oriole Jelly Wild Bird Feeder has a large, self-dispensing container, so the dish doesn’t have to be constantly refilled. The Perky-Pet feeder features a round jelly trough and comes with a 32-ounce plastic jar to fill with grape jelly.
As the orioles eat the jelly in the troughs, more jelly seeps down, so they receive a constant supply. The bottle can be washed and refilled with more jelly, or users can simply screw on another 32-ounce jar of jelly into the holder. The jelly in the jar stays clean, so there’s less worry about it becoming contaminated. This feeder is suitable for yards with many, or just a few, orioles.
Crafted by the Amish in Shipshewana, Indiana, this bright orange oriole feeder is made from poly-wood, which is a wood-look plastic material derived from recycled milk jugs. It features a transparent plastic jelly dish set in the bottom of a rectangular base, so birds can access the jelly from either side of a diagonally positioned wall frame.
The feeder comes with a gable roof to help protect birds and the jelly dish from rain and harsh sun rays. It also has two fruit spikes for holding orange halves. The jelly dish is removable for easy cleaning and filling, and it can hold mealworms during the summer months when orioles are feeding their young.
Made from bright orange powder-coated metal rather than solid plastic or wood, this feeder from Heath Outdoor Products provides open views. Bird lovers can see the orioles that come to the feeder, even if they’re on the far side. The feeder measures about 7.5 inches in diameter.
The see-through feeder comes with a removable glass jelly cup for easy cleaning and filling and features two fruit spikes for holding orange halves. It also offers hand perches for the birds as they eat. All parts of the feeder, including the hanging chain, are bright orange to appeal to orioles, and the deep bowl can hold mealworms instead of jelly if desired.
Shaped to mimic half of an orange—a favorite oriole treat—the Heath Outdoor Products Citrus Buffet Oriole Feeder might be irresistible to orioles. While they’re visiting, they can dine on nectar, jelly, or mealworms. The semispherical base forms a reservoir that holds 6 ounces of liquid nectar, and the two dishes on the top cover can hold 4.5 ounces of jelly.
A plastic ring encircles the cover to serve as a perch. The Citrus Buffet feeder features a center bar with a hook at the top for hanging. To clean or refill the feeder, remove the entire unit, wash it, and refill.
FAQs About Oriole Feeders
One of the most sought-after songbirds, orioles are a treasured sight in backyards. However, they don’t eat birdseed, so attracting them requires putting out jelly, nectar, or fresh oranges. Keep reading to find commonly asked questions and their answers.
Q. How do I attract orioles to my yard?
Orioles have a sweet tooth, so offer grape jelly, nectar, or fresh fruit to lure them to a feeder. Planting orange-flowering bushes and vines also helps draw their attention.
Q. What time of day do orioles feed?
They can eat any time of day if food is available, but migrating orioles feed most heavily in the mornings.
Q. Where is the best place to put an oriole feeder?
Orioles prefer staying close to trees and shrubbery, so place an oriole feeder near trees when possible, and out of the direct sun.
Q. How high off the ground should an oriole feeder be?
Try to position an oriole feeder at least 7 feet high. Orioles are high-tree birds who prefer to stay in the upper branches, so they might avoid visiting lower feeders.