How to Attract Orioles to Your Yard

How to Attract Orioles to Your Yard

Not many birds catch your eye the way Oriole’s do. Their vibrant orange and black colors are almost surreal. To go along with their striking appearance, Orioles have a beautiful song. Which they like to sing in the early morning.For those of us that are lucky enough to have them, we certainly want to keep them. And for those who don’t have them, I’m always asked how to attract them. There are many things you can do to attract them, but first you should understand what they want and when they are here in our area.

What they want
Orioles prefer tall tree lines near water. Although, they have adapted well to yards, parks and avenues of trees along streets. They like to nest in tall trees but they will travel quite a distance for food.

What they like to eat & drink
For food their favorite is grape jelly and mealworms, followed by oranges (cut in half) and nectar. Feeding live mealworms helps keep them coming to the feeder during nesting.

When they are here
In the Midwest, Orioles arrive the end of April. A good strategy for attracting them is to have your feeders out no later than the third week of April. They are here until mid September, but the most activity at the feeder is in the month of May. When they start nesting in June feeder activity declines. Feeding live mealworms will help you keep them coming in June. After the babies fledge, there is an increase at the feeder, usually in July. Although it is never as good as the month of May.

How can I discourage Grackles and Starlings at my feeder?

How can I discourage Grackles and Starlings at my feeder?

The good news is, there are effective strategies for dealing with these birds. Although, none are without trade-offs.

Option 1, Switch to Safflower exclusively. Birds like Grackles and& Starlings can’t eat safflower, but … Cardinals, House Finches and Doves love it! Another benefit is that Squirrels don’t like safflower either. You can switch back to a mix in the winter when most Grackles migrate south.

Option 2, Use a caged tube feeder or “clinger only” feeder. Caged feeders only allow small birds access to the feeder. If you use a caged feeder and would like to feed larger birds like Cardinals and Doves, you could offer safflower in another easily accessible feeder. A clinger only feeder is a feeder with out perches. Birds like Gold Finches, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Woodpeckers are considered clinging birds and don’t need perches. While not 100% effective against Grackles, it will discourage them and make it hard for them to feed.

How to Attract Bluebirds to Your Yard

How to Attract Bluebirds to Your Yard

Creating a Bluebird habitat in your backyard

Like most birds, bluebirds need food, water and shelter. Bluebirds however, are particular about what they like. In this article we will discuss proven techniques for attracting Bluebirds and some interesting facts about bluebirds.

Did you know?

Bluebirds are a member of the Thrush family and they are related to the American Robin. Bluebirds are very beneficial, they eat large quantities of insects. These beautiful birds were once very common in the United States. However, their numbers have dwindled due to loss of habitat, introduced bird species and overuse of pesticides.

Housing

Put up a nest box or two or three … specifically designed for bluebirds with no perch, and a 1 1/2-inch-diameter entrance hole for Eastern and Western Bluebirds (Mountain Bluebirds require a slightly larger entrance, approx. 1 9/16). The nest box should have drainage holes in the bottom and ventilation holes at the top of the sides. The floor should be about 4 x 4 inches for Eastern Bluebirds and 5 x 5 inches for Mountain and Western Bluebirds.

The nest box should be placed in an open, mowed habitat such as open fields, farmlands or pastures, large lawns or parks. The nest box should be mounted about 4 to 5 feet off the ground on a metal pole, wood/fence post or even a fence T-post. You can also mount the box on a structure or even a tree if the tree is in the open and trimmed high as long as the house faces an open area. Use a baffle to protect the box from predators. Be sure the boxes are up by early March, before nesting starts. Leave nest boxes up year round. Birds will use it in the winter as a roost to protect them from the cold and elements.

You should clean the nest boxes out. Bluebirds won’t use a box that is full of sticks or wasps. You can clean the box at the beginning of the season (February or March) and after each brood of babies fledge to help encourage multiple broods.

Food and Water

A bluebird’s primary diet consists of insects, fruits and berries. As an insectivore, they love mealworms. Especially live mealworms. You can buy mealworms live or freeze dried. But you will have much more success with live mealworms. Planting fruit trees and berry bushes are a great idea to attract insect/berry birds like bluebirds. Bluebirds are also known to occasionally eat sunflower chips, insect suet and bluebird nuggets (a suet covered peanut). While these are not primary attractants, they can be used to supplement the more expensive live mealworms.

There are a variety of feeders for meal worms. Something as simple as a glass cup with about an 3/4 to 1 inch lip will work. If you encounter competition for the worms from other birds like Robins, you can use a traditional bluebird feeder (see picture above / left). This type of feeder has an opening that a bluebird or wren can fit through, but larger birds can’t.

All birds need water and a birdbath is a great way to attract birds. With a birdbath can often see bird species that you wouldn’t normally see at a seed feeder. Keeping liquid water year round will keep the birds coming. In the winter there are heated birdbaths or submersible heaters for your existing birdbath. Be careful not to let water freeze in a clay or cement birdbath, it may crack. Fountains are another excellent way offer water. As well as creating a wonderful ambiance, birds are attracted to the moving water of a fountain!

Bluebird facts

  • Bluebirds can have one to four broods / clutches per breeding season.
  • An Eastern Bluebird may lay 4-7 eggs. Four or five is most common.
  • Bluebirds will use a communal roost during the winter.
  • Bluebirds are unique to North America.
  • Male bluebirds deliver food to incubating females and participate equally in feeding nestlings and fledglings.
  • Bluebird nests are built mostly by the female.
  • Young bluebirds leave the nest 15-20 days after hatching.
  • Before pesticides, farmers would put up nest boxes around their fields because bluebirds eat many insects.
Disease Prevention

Disease Prevention

Help prevent disease: 
To help minimize the risk of disease transmission keep your feeders clean. This is an important part of bird feeding, not only will it keep your birds healthy but it also keeps your feeders looking nice and lasting longer. Here are some tips to help keep your birds healthy.

  1. Once a month let the birds empty the feeder as far as they can. Shake out any remaining seeds. Wash in a 50/50 solution of hot water and white vinegar. (some say to use a 10% bleach solution) Rinse thoroughly and refill when completely dry. Then once to twice a year (spring and fall) remove all the hardware and clean thoroughly. We carry a variety of different size brushes to make this job easy.
  2. Throw out any wet or moldy food and disinfect any containers or scoops used to handle it. If you see the seed in the feeder is not being eaten, check to see if it has become moldy or wet from rain. You should store seed in a sealed airtight container in a cool, dry place. We carry the Woodlink seed storage containers with a pour spout and handle.
  3. Rake, shovel or shop vac seed debris and droppings from under your feeders on a regular basis to prevent the growth of mold and bacteria. We have several sizes of seed trays or our seed hoop that can be attached under a feeder to catch loose seed. Never feed directly on the ground. We have ground feeders that allow ground birds (doves, cardinals, jays) to eat healthy. They have removable screens that make cleaning a breeze.
  4. Discourage overcrowding at the feeders. If you only have one feeder, provide additional feeders and different kinds of feeders designed for different kinds of birds. If you have several feeders, you can space them apart.
Backyard Birding

Backyard Birding

Topeka’s largest selection of everything for the backyard bird lover. We have an unsurpassed selection of feeders, bird baths, fountains, bird houses, shepherd hooks and pole systems.

Hummingbirds Everywhere!

Hummingbirds Everywhere!

Enjoy this video of some early evening footage of ruby-throated hummingbirds feeding on an Aspects Hummzinger Feeder. August and September is the busiest time at the feeder for hummingbirds!

Vist our youtube channel for more videos!

Backyard Birding

Backyard Birding

Topeka’s largest selection of everything for the backyard bird lover. We have an unsurpassed selection of feeders, bird baths, fountains, bird houses, shepherd hooks and pole systems.