how to put out oranges for birds

Orioles are beautiful, tropical-looking birds. They fly to south america for winter, and then return again each spring. They are renowned for loving oranges (and grape jelly)! The Bullock’s Orioles are our most frequent flyers, and they have bright orange plumage with black details, and a very distinctive cackle. They frequent the oranges from late may and to july, then less frequently once they begin tending to nestlings.

There are a few different Orioles found in the Unites States. If you are on the east coast, then you probably have Baltimore Orioles. If you are in the west, then you probably have Bullock’s Orioles. In between, you might encounter an Orchard Oriole. And if you live in California or the desert southwest, you might become acquainted with a Hooded Oriole. Regardless of what kind of oriole you have in your area, one of their favorite snacks, especially during migration time, is oranges!

As I mentioned earlier, here in Wyoming, we have mainly Bullock’s Orioles, but this year I also had an Orchard Oriole stopping by for some sweet citrus, and much to my excitement, a hybrid Bullock’s x Baltimore Oriole. I occasionally put out grape jelly and other fruits, but oranges, cut in half, are by far the favorite among my orioles. They will always choose oranges, evne when given a spread of multiple choices included other fruits, jellies & jams, and nectar.

Another neotropical migrant found at orange feeders are tanagers. We have only one regular variety of tanager out here in Wyoming—the Western Tanager. Western Tanagers are actually the birds that sparked my interest in offering oranges at my bird feeding station, in the first place! Here’s the story: One morning, Hunter told me we had some sort of bigger goldfinches or something at the feeder—birds with orange faces. Of course, he was who spotted the new birds, and so could only guess what they might have been. He left the house and I eventually decided that, perhaps he was referring to an orange-colored oriole? I cut an orange in half and went and stuck it on our shepherds hook. By the time I got into the house and looked out the kitchen window, a male Western Tanager had already begun eating the oranges! Of course I had to call him and inform him that goldfinches, definitely don’t have RED heads!

And so, if you live in an area with tanagers, you may be able to attract them to your feeding station with orange halves, or other fruit. Mine also enjoy eating apples, and different types of jams & jellies. P.S.—A pair of Bullock’s Orioles quickly caught on to the oranges, shortly after the western tanagers did.

On occasion, much to my delight and surprise, a Lazuli Bunting will come in and nibble on the oranges. When I first noticed them, I thought perhaps they were eating some sort of fruit fly or insect. But nope, these handsome blue boys are stopping by for beak fulls of delicious orange pulp, too! This is especially surprising, since their normally preferred food is white proso millet!

House Finches also adore the oranges. In fact, I consider them the most frequent flyers at the orange feeders. They simply cannot get enough! While orioles and tanagers start stopping by for the oranges in spring, the house finches continue stopping by all throughout summer. I especially love when I start seeing little finch families stopping by the orange halves—they teach them young! (The bird in the cover photo for this post is actually a fledgling house finch, who caught on to the deliciousness of oranges right away.)

The Grosbeaks are another bird species that shows more interest in the oranges come summertime. I have heard some folks can attract Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks to their orange feeders, but I have only managed to attract the Black-Headed Grosbeaks to mine. They are beautifully colored birds with chunky beaks and while they prefer the bird seed, every once in a while, they sit and gobble up orange for a spell. Grosbeaks also like grape jelly and apples, but like Orioles, they seem to prefer oranges, above all!

There are several other birds you may be able to attract to your feeding station with oranges, including: catbirds, thrashers, and various types of wood peckers. We have catbirds here, but they stay in the relatively thick cover of our tree belt or the dense thickets along the river. I have never seen one venture over to our actual yard. I have heard other folk on social media mention that they have brown thrashers or mockingbirds stopping by to eat fruit at their bird feeding stations; neither of which are very common species in my are. Red-Bellied Woodpeckers and Downy Woodpeckers also partake in oranges, if you have them in your yard during summer; I don’t. If I’m missing any orange-eating birds, please share them with us, below, by leaving a comment! What birds do you have visiting your yard to eat oranges or other fruit offerings you provide?

Now that you are convinced that you should incorporate oranges in your bird feeding station this summer, to attract new birds and increase the variety of backyard birds visiting you, let me tell you how simple it is.

As I previously indicated, the majority of the Orioles in Wyoming are Bullock’s, but this year I also saw an Orchard Oriole, which was very exciting to me, and a hybrid Bullock’s x Baltimore Oriole. I occasionally set out grape jelly and other fruits, but my orioles’ absolute favorite is an orange cut in half. Even when presented with a variety of options, such as other fruits or jellies, they will always select oranges.

Occasionally, to my amazement and delight, a Lazuli Bunting will visit and eat the oranges. When I first saw them, I assumed they might be consuming a fruit fly or other insect. But, surprisingly, these dashing blue boys are also stopping by for mouthwatering mouthfuls of orange pulp, despite their usual preference for white proso millet!

The United States is home to several distinct species of Oriole. The Baltimore Orioles are most likely your team if you live on the east coast. In the West, Bullock’s Orioles are most likely your team. In between, you might encounter an Orchard Oriole. Additionally, you might come into contact with a Hooded Oriole if you reside in California or the Southwest’s desert regions. Whatever species of oriole you have in your area, oranges are a favorite snack of theirs, especially during migration!

You can prod them with the shepherd’s hook ends that hang your bird feeders. You can prod them with sticks or visible trees, bushes, or snags. You can place them on an old stump, a platform feeder, or the railing of your deck. A block of scrap wood, some nails, and screws can be used to create a homemade orange feeder. Just remember to use a nail or screw to hold each orange and another below for a perch. Alternatively, you could buy a variety of orange bird feeders. Regardless of how you display the oranges, the most important thing is to keep them fresh and in a visible location. It should be possible for birds to see your oranges when they are soaring overhead or passing by. Oranges yield more fruit when they are harvested in the spring, when the temperature is slightly lower. They will last for me for about two days before drying out or being consumed. They truly must be replaced every day when summer heat waves arrive. The birds lose interest in them once they begin to dry out and become dehydrated.

House Finches also adore the oranges. As a matter of fact, I think they visit the orange feeders the most frequently. The house finches visit all summer long, even though orioles and tanagers begin to visit in spring for the oranges—they just can’t get enough! The photo on the cover of this post features a fledgling house finch that discovered the delectable taste of oranges at an early age. I particularly enjoy it when I see small finch families visiting the orange halves. ).

Learn Your Local Birds

Find out what species are local to your area or migrate through before haphazardly placing oranges or other food items. You can identify local species with the aid of state extension offices, neighborhood birdwatching groups, regional or national bird identification books like Audubon books, and bird websites like eBird.

Additionally, neighbors who have bird feeders can be a great source of knowledge and guidance.

You’ll be better prepared to understand the preferred foods and feeder types for both local and migratory birds once you know which species to anticipate. It’s time to arrange your feeders and greet your feathered companions. After setting up your bird feeders, you might want to keep a record of who visits. Contribute to the scientific community by adding data to websites such as eBird.

Birds That Like Oranges

Orioles really like oranges. So do mockingbirds, tanagers and catbirds. Other birds that like fruit include:

  • Bluebirds
  • Thrashers
  • Cardinals
  • Woodpeckers
  • Jays
  • Starlings
  • Thrushes
  • Cedar waxwings
  • Yellow-breasted chats

Although some birds have been observed to enjoy oranges, it is important to remember that not all of them will share this preference. Naturally, not every one of these birds migrates or lives in every area.

Even if you don’t live in an area where orioles visit, an orange offering might draw in a few surprise visitors.


How do you set oranges for birds?

Perhaps one of the best things about feeding birds oranges is the low maintenance. You don’t need a snazzy feeder. Simply hammer a nail to a deck railing or fencepost and stick an orange half to the nail. Or set a couple of orange halves right in your platform feeder.

Can I leave oranges out for birds?

Birds also enjoy other fruits such as oranges, plums, apples, grapes, cherries, crabapples, and prickly pear. Birds may swallow small fruits whole, and any seeds that are defecated could regrow into new plants for future fruit crops. Larger fruits may be pierced, shredded, or torn for birds to reach the flesh.

When should you put out oranges for orioles?

The colors might clash if you tried to go out wearing them — if you could go out. But red and orange are not a bad combination when it comes to bird feeders: red for hummingbirds, orange for orioles. Mid-April is a good time to put up both kinds, since both species arrive about the same time: late April and early May.

How do you put fruit out for birds?

Cutting larger fruits into bite-sized pieces can make them more desirable. Offer them in a washable bowl on a platform feeder or flat deck railing—don’t put anything that can get so sticky onto a wooden feeder or anything else that is hard to wash.