What Do Orioles Eat – The Definitive Guide

Do you want to invite the orioles to your backyard? But, not sure how to do it. Well, we are here to help you out. You can attract the orioles by simply offering them the food they love to eat. But, do you know what do orioles eat?

As they are omnivores species, they love to feed on plants and animals. Their diet starts with insects, fruits, berries, and nectar are the type of food they like to eat. 


Not all orioles follow the above-given diet. It totally depends on what type of oriole specie it is. And also the season plays a crucial role as you won’t find fresh plants and animals throughout the year. 

One more interesting fact about Orioles is, that they generally like to migrate very far from the cityside areas just to make sure that they have a lot of food to consume when they get ready for the migration. 

Orioles is a kind of bird that can eat anything which can enter their tiny mouth easily.  They can eat various kinds of food. But what they really like to eat is what you are looking for, right? 

The below content is going to give you the full information on the diet of orioles. Questions like, what is their diet in the wild, what they prefer to eat on the feeders, and how is their behavior when they feed – all these points are covered. 

Let’s move down.



Orioles’ love for insects is at its peak. They love to feed on insects. Especially, when they are in the mood for nesting. Although, they never say NO to the insects throughout the year. 

All birds need nutritious food to live healthily and that applies to the  Orioles too. Insects are the best fit to fill the gap. As they are filled with full of nutrition and ready-made protein for the orioles to eat. 

This is not the end as they also feed the insects to their chicks when they hatch from the eggs. It’s also true that they eat fruits, and suck the nectar but they don’t help them to fill the gap in daily protein needs. 

Here’s the list of insects that orioles like to eat:

  • Grasshoppers
  • Moths
  • Beetles
  • Bees
  • Crickets
  • Spiders
  • Wasps
  • Caterpillars

To hunt the insects, orioles sticks to the trees and bushes to find fresh insects. If they are small and juicy, they consume and then recapitulate them and feed to their chicks in the nest. 

When orioles are in the state of migration, North America is the best place for insects to feed. Especially, in the summer season. They don’t worry as the supply is enough for them to eat in compared to the tropical places. 

But once the winter season starts in North America, it’s hard to find the insects for the orioles. Because of the cold conditions, they rarely feed on insects. 

Birds are said to be the smartest species of all creatures. They just move with the food source and migrate to the southern part where the climate is warm and full of food ( bugs )


Another food that orioles love to add to their diet list is fruits. They get attracted to the sweetness of the fruit. Aside, they love to eat other parts of plants including blossoms, fruits, and berries. All kinds of fruits are seasonal fruits that may available for a short period of time, they still enjoy eating all kinds of fruits.

Fruits contain a high source of energy, fiber, and water as well which act as fuel when they travel long distances.

Sometimes these tiny orioles can amaze you with their smart feeding technique known as ‘Gaping’. The gaping technique is used while

eating fruits. They stab the closed bill of fruit with their splendor beak, open their mouth and scoop out the flesh with their tongue. 

Orioles enjoy eating a wide variety of fruits including:

  • Oranges
  • Bananas 
  • Crab apples
  • Grapes 
  • Cherries 
  • Mulberries
  • Blackberries
  • figs

If you are trying to attract orioles, then attract them by feeding oranges. They get very tempted towards orange due to its darker color, which you can cut in half and place where they can peck at the juice and plump.

These fruits are juicily flavored which orioles like the most. They prefer only ripe and dark-colored fruits. Also seeks out for darkest berries and reddish cherries rather than faded-colored fruits. 

They are also fond of citrus fruits like oranges and grapes that can be found in ample quantities in the tropical areas which remain only for half the year.


Nectar a sugary syrup secreted within flowers is another source of food for orioles. They sip nectar, either as a major part of their diet or supplement treat when it is easily available. 

If you are looking for orioles, they can be found in the season of spring when there is a plentiful of flowers that produce nectar. You can enjoy watching how they sip nectar and chirp and can find other species of orioles and different birds.

A brightly-colored, pleasant smell flower that is open during the day is pollinated by these kinds of birds. Thus, when the flowers bloom orioles get seduced by the flower’s sweet and pleasant odor and start sipping sweet nectar. 

Mostly they get attracted by the orange-colored flower because of its dark bright petals. And here is the bonus tip, you can also plant flowers in your backyard to attract them. Flowers you plant should be of bright colored including:

  • Sunflowers
  • Black-Eyed Susan
  • Trumpet Honeysuckles
  • Trumpet Vine
  • Torch Lily

Another advantage of planting flowers is the small insects and bees that buzz around them which is a good source of food for orioles.


Are you imagining that orioles like to eat plants? No, they don’t eat plants. They only eat the soft, and sweet parts of the plants such as buds, nuts, fruits, etc. These provide a great source of fiber and nutrients to stay strong and live long.

Even they are not fond of vegetables. In spite of that, peas are a fav food of orioles. Therefore, if you have pea plants in your backyard then orioles are sure to come and relish eating peas. You can offer fresh, frozen, or dried peas also.


Normally, orioles survive on a diet of plants, nectars, and insects. But, 

sometimes orioles include small reptiles and birds in their diet. Shocking right? But It’s true that orioles often scares small birds away from nectar feeder and other food sources, but rarely see them fighting and killing other birds or reptiles. Orioles eat small lizards and hummingbirds. These are not regular prey of orioles.

In most cases, we have seen orioles and hummingbirds get along.

But they only attack, kill and even eat hummingbirds during times of extreme food scarcity.

That’s why you’d rarely see them eating lizards or hummingbirds.


Jelly is one of the most effective foods for orioles that you can offer. They love sugary and crammed stuff. A portion of sweet fruit-flavored food can attract them and fruit jelly is a high-energy food that gives them boosts during the breeding season and a long journey.

You can offer smooth grape jelly which is particularly orioles’ favorite. 

Aside, they will also take orange marmalade or red cherry, strawberry, apple, or raspberry jellies if you are out of grape jelly. 

you can also give homemade jellies made with natural sugar instead artificial jelly, as artificial sugar can be harmful to them.

Offer jelly in small dishes with a perch for the orioles to relax. Also, you can buy orioles feeder trays which attract them.

When orioles are visiting frequently at feeders, it may be best to offer only small quantities of jelly and don’t refill the jelly feeder over and over when it gets empty. Because they seek out a large variety of food sources for more balanced nutrition after the jelly is gone. And jelly alone doesn’t provide a sufficient amount of nutrients or protein for a healthy diet.


Another form of syrup that orioles like is homemade sugar water which they don’t find in the forest. They like the same sugar water your hummingbird does, in a ratio that mimics flower nectar.

This is another way to attract orioles if you don’t have any nectar-producing plants in your backyard.

The simple process of making sugar syrup is combining four parts of hot water with one part of sugar, and mixing until the sugar is dissolved. See! It’s ready, easy right?  Now you can offer this to orioles in the feeder. Use orioles feeder instead humming feeder, as orioles have larger perchers and wider beaks. Offering sugar syrup can attracts not only orioles but also other nectar-loving birds or animals to your yard. So, be aware of other animals which may harm orioles.


Unlike humans, orioles need a high level of fats such as peanuts and suet. They need fats to keep warm in the winter weather as well as for migration also.

Here is another way to seduce orioles is by offering peanuts and suet. They will surely eat the peanuts given by you because they don’t find them in the wild. This can be an excellent source of fat for them.

On another side, suet is a great fat source for orioles. Suet plays an important role in providing fat to orioles during the breeding season as well as when they work hard to find good food sources.

Hence, a bonus tip is that keeping peanuts or suet in the oriole’s feeder can attract them and also helps in gaining fats and proteins.



Eating seeds are not in orioles’ diet. Presenting seeds to them will not work as orioles’ diet consists of fruits, jelly, nectar, or mealworms.

Try to offer foods they like to eat the most in their feeder.

It is said that they often eat seeds. Usually, this happens when they consume other food. For example, sunflower seeds are likely to eat by orioles because when they suck nectar they accidentally consume seeds as well. They only consume seeds in times of scarcity of food sources.

The conclusion is offering seeds to orioles will not work, they have a different diet that does not include seeds. In the wild, they prefer eating insects, nectar, and ripe and dark-colored fruits. 


When winter comes it brings difficulties for orioles to find their food. When food is scarce, they look for seeds that have been cracked by other birds or animals and eat the remanent part.

To survive from food scarcity in winter they migrate to warmer places such as Southern states as well as Central and South America.

Here they get plenty of variety of food like insects, flowers, and fruits.

But not every oriole species migrates in this season, they try to spend the winter in northern states. And these orioles feed on fruits, berries, and suet at a feeder. 

During winter you can offer fresh fruits, mealworms, water, jelly, and nectar to overwintering orioles, as they need high-level energy and fat to survive all through the winter.


Similar to humans, orioles too require all kinds of nutrients, proteins, sugar, fats, etc, which are found in insects, fruits, and nectar as part of their diet. various kinds of foods are available in different seasons to help orioles during the breeding season and also help in migrating thousands of miles.

A bonus tip for you is that if you are trying to attract orioles in your backyard give importance to timing. 

Provide food to orioles according to the seasons and offer which food they like to eat most. During spring offer them orange halves, grapes jelly, sugar water, or syrup, as they crave eating citrus fruits in this season.

And when breeding season begins they switch almost exclusively to insects, you can give them caterpillars or mealworms in their feeder.

And lastly, if you are seeking orioles in your backyard try to use an oriole feeder of bright orange color which they are fond of.

We hope the above-given information may help you in bringing orioles flock to your yard.

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My self Mark. I have been birding for the last 10 years. Birdwatching is and will be my favorite hobby.

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