What do orioles eat? Know Orioles food habits

oriole sitting on a tree

Have you ever wondered “what do orioles eat?” These birds are very striking and you might want to attract them to your garden, but knowing what they eat is key to doing that.

So, what do orioles eat? Orioles are not fussy birds; they will eat fruits, suet, insects, peas, flowers, nectar, kitchen scraps, and even peculiar things such as jelly.

What fruits do orioles eat?

fruits for orioles

Orioles love fruit and they will readily come to a feeder if you provide a range of fruits. You may need to buy a specially designed feeder, or cut fruit up and place it on a tray (out of reach of predators) to ensure the birds can feed easily.

Most fruits are suitable for orioles, but they particularly love bananas, apples, oranges, many kinds of berries, and peaches. You should cut these into large chunks or hang them up so that the birds can land on them and peck at the fruit.

Offer a selection of fruits throughout the year and see which ones are preferred by your birds. You might find that they are particularly keen on strawberries, or that they opt for oranges. Withdraw uneaten fruits and feed them the things that they like best.

If you have a lot of ants in your garden, you may find that these swarm on the fruits. Put fruits in a dish and then stand this in a tray of shallow water. The ants will be unable to cross the water to get at the fruits, while the birds can either stand in the water or perch on the edge of the dish.

Orioles also like sugar, so if you have a nectar feeder for hummingbirds they may show interest – but you might need a larger one for them to be able to comfortably land on it. Four parts water to one sugar should be sufficient to attract and feed them; don’t make the water too sweet.

What jelly do orioles eat?

jelly for orioles

Jellies are a very popular treat for orioles, partly because of the sugar. If you put jellies out in small dishes, you will observe these birds flocking around to taste the sweet, sticky substance. You can add a little water to jellies to thin them if you prefer.

They are particularly fond of grape jelly, but will eat marmalade, raspberry jelly, strawberry jelly, etc. The easiest way to serve it is to spread some in a small but heavy dish – they should not be able to knock it over. You may need to fasten the dish down.

Alternatively, smear some in an empty orange half and stick it on a spike. The birds can then perch and snack away as much as they please.

Do not give your orioles jellies that have sugar substitutes in. They need the sugar for energy, and other sweet substances could poison them.

While orioles love jelly, you shouldn’t give them too much – they need to seek out foods with more nutritional value too. Real fruit is often better, especially when supplemented with seed or insects. Use jelly as a “treat” or to attract orioles, but not as an everyday food.

You should regularly clean the dishes you supply jelly in to prevent mold from growing on them. It is best to use a dish you can easily remove, take indoors, and wash thoroughly before replenishing the supply.

What insects do orioles eat?

Orioles may catch their own insects, but you can provide them if you like. Mealworms are readily available in many pet stores; put some in a deep-sided dish on your feeder, and the orioles will come to eat them.

You will also observe them chasing and eating wasps, and possibly other bugs too. They particularly enjoy caterpillars, so you might see them hunting for these among the leaves. If you have a pest problem, orioles will help solve it!

If you have any birds in your garden, you should avoid spraying your insects with pesticides; this will hurt the birds that then eat them, and could even kill them if they consume high quantities. Instead, use natural control methods and encourage more predators.

What kitchen scraps do orioles eat?

Kitchen scraps should be fed only in small amounts. Orioles will enjoy bread, cheese, pasta, cereals, and vegetables such as peas (which they love). Some kinds of orioles will not show much interest in kitchen scraps at all, while others will enjoy them.

Do not feed kitchen scraps in high quantities; a small amount as a treat is perfect and will be enjoyed, but these aren’t natural or balanced food sources for the birds, so you shouldn’t give them too much.

What else can you feed Orioles?

Suet is popular with orioles, also being high in energy. You can mix in berries and fruit to increase its attractiveness, or add a bit of peanut butter, which the birds also enjoy very much.

You will probably want an appropriate suet feeder, but you can also use coconut halves to contain the fat, or crumble some up.

Many orioles will only bother with suet during the nesting season, so don’t worry if your suet doesn’t seem to attract them. Other birds will enjoy it, or you can opt for fruits and sweet foods that do attract the orioles.


So, to answer “what do orioles eat?” it’s almost anything! As long as you don’t feed them seeds or nuts, they’ll be happy.

Make sure you aren’t overfeeding them on kitchen scraps or rich foods, and try to provide a balanced diet throughout the year, and you’ll have happy, healthy birds at your feeder.

Donald Bergeson

I have always been fascinated by the skill, strength, and beauty of birds.They help in maintaining a balance of ecological environment. At Best Bird Guide, I share all of my experiences and discoveries that I have got so far and inspire more devoted fans.

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