Orioles and hummingbirds are welcome visitors to our yards and gardens in the spring, and will be arriving soon! We can expect to see them in late April or early May. The Ruby-throated hummingbird is the only hummingbird we see in Eastern North America. Baltimore Orioles, also known as Northern Orioles, as well as Orchard Orioles are familiar guests in our region.
If you are trying to attract these birds to your garden, it’s important to make sure that the feeders are visible, and not hidden in trees and shrubs. Hanging them from a pole system, shepherd’s hook, or a bracket on a post is best. We suggest setting the table for their arrival by the third week in April. You can always put the feeders out empty, just make sure you have everything ready to go once they arrive.
You can welcome orioles with a variety of feeders as they like to choose from a diverse menu. Their favourite foods include nectar, grape jelly, oranges, red grapes (cut in half is best), mealworms and fruit flavoured suet. Nectar can be made with ¼ cup plain white table sugar to 1 cup boiling water. Stir to dissolve the sugar and cool. You may also purchase powdered or ready-to-use nectar. There are many styles of oriole feeders to choose from to accommodate their various food preferences! Separate feeders are available for nectar, jelly, oranges, suet, and mealworms, or you can choose the Ultimate Oriole Feeder which provides areas for nectar, grape jelly and fruit.
There’s nothing like watching a hummingbird dart through your garden in search of colourful tubular shaped flowers. They are especially drawn to red, pink and orange flowers. Hummingbirds are also attracted to hummingbird nectar feeders. These little jewels are used to feeding close to the ground, so their feeders can be placed on shorter hooks in gardens or planters. Window feeders are another option if you want to see them up close! Hummingbirds are very territorial, so if you can place a few feeders out of sight of each other, you may have the opportunity to view more than one hummingbird family! The most functional feeders for hummingbirds are saucer shaped models that include an ant moat. It’s important to keep their nectar fresh, so filling a hummingbird feeder to the brim isn’t necessary. Their tongues are twice as long as their beaks, so you don’t need to worry if the nectar isn’t filled to the top. Once you notice the nectar has become cloudy in hummingbird and oriole feeders, it’s time to refresh.
If you’d like to see hummingbirds even more, consider adding a hummingbird swing close to their feeder. They will happily perch on these to rest… and defend their feeders.
It’s also important to provide water for these beauties, so a birdbath or mister would be a welcome addition.
Orioles will stay in our locales until late August or early September before they begin their migration south. Hummingbirds are sometimes seen as late as early October, so you will want to leave a feeder up for the hummers migrating from further north until Thanksgiving.
I’m looking forward to welcoming them back!
Happy Spring Birding!
By Jane Paradis
Urban Nature Store