What Do Orioles Eat?

Hello there! I’m thrilled to share with you what I’ve learned about the dining habits of orioles.

As an avid bird enthusiast, I’ve observed these vibrant and beautiful birds in my own backyard, and I’ve done my research to uncover their preferred menu.

If you’re curious to know what orioles munch on, you’re in the right place!

From juicy fruits to protein-rich insects, these feathery friends have some interesting culinary choices.

Let’s dive in and discover what orioles eat!

What Do Orioles Eat?
Orioles have a diverse diet that includes both fruits and insects.
They are known to be opportunistic feeders, meaning they will consume a wide range of foods depending on availability.
Here are some common items that Orioles typically include in their menu:
  • Nectar
  • Fruits
  • Insects
  • Sugar water
  • Tree sap

It’s common for orioles to adhere to a diet of insects, spiders, and fruit.

Unlike most songbirds, they seldom, if ever, consume hard seeds.

Additionally, the high protein content of insects and the sweetness of many fruits entice orioles.

For food, they go straight for the darker, riper fruits.

What Kind of Food Do Young Orioles Eat?

Young Orioles are fed a varied diet by their parents.

Due to their diminutive size, these birds are often preyed upon.

It’s not uncommon for the male to go on a hunting trip while the female tends to the young.

The male will collect plant matter, which the birds will consume before regurgitating it for the young.

Since the fledging stage only lasts for approximately two weeks, adult orioles continue eating the same food they always had.

The fruits and insects which the parents bring back to the nest are what the young orioles will consume.

Soon after this, the orioles are fully capable of foraging for themselves, sustaining themselves on a variety of fruits and insects they come across.

Young orioles have specific dietary requirements that differ slightly from adult orioles.

Here’s a breakdown of what young orioles typically eat:

  1. Insects
  2. Nectar
  3. Fruits
  4. Tree sap

During Winter, What Do Orioles Eat?

The availability of the foods orioles rely on most decreases throughout the winter, which might be difficult for them.

In colder areas, there are fewer insects for orioles to eat and fewer fruits to feast on.

Orioles can’t survive in the cold winter since there isn’t enough food, so they all go south to warmer climates.

Many orioles will change their diet once they arrive at their wintering grounds to include items that are unavailable throughout the summer and spring.

While on the move, orioles in the United States, for instance, increase their intake of citrus fruits.

The winter diet of orioles also includes the following:

  • Nectar
  • Oranges
  • Suet
  • Apples
  • Bananas
  • Peaches
  • Grapes
  • Berries

If an oriole’s native habitat is on the fringe of a warm region, such as the southeastern United States, it may not move very far.

Orioles may be seen picking at suet or consuming seed remains at bird feeders if they decide to spend the winter in a warm climate.

Orioles will still be able to get enough to eat, despite the decrease in bug populations.

How to Attract Orioles to Your Backyard?

Orioles are a welcome sight in the gardens and lawns of many people.

Not only do they sing beautifully, but they also help keep unwanted bugs and spiders at bay.

If you want to lure orioles to your backyard without drawing unwanted attention, you’ll need to cater to their unique dietary needs.

A standard bird feeder will not be effective in luring orioles since they are more interested in fruit than in the seeds it provides.

Rather, try putting out a few of the following foods:

  • Peeled and cut oranges
  • Cherries
  • Suet
  • Cut grapes
  • Mealworms
  • Nectar
  • Mulberries
  • Jelly

Put out these items and hang up the correct feeders, and you’ll soon have these lovely birds visiting your backyard.

To prepare for their arrival, it’s advisable to research local migration trends and set out food a couple of weeks beforehand.

Ornithoptera and dark, juicy fruits are the oriole’s go-to diet items.

They may eat broken and open seeds left out for them over the winter, but their extensive migrations ensure they never go hungry.

The birds are prey to a variety of animals in the wild, and their little stature makes it difficult for them to defend themselves.

New World orioles are not related to Old World orioles, despite sharing their name, size, and feeding preferences.

Icterus is the genus that contains all of the New World orioles, whereas Oriolidae is where you’ll find the Old World species.

Their key visual distinction is that New World orioles have orange and black or greenish-yellow feathers, whereas Old World orioles come in a rainbow of hues. 


In conclusion, orioles have a diverse diet that includes nectar, fruits, insects, tree sap, and even jelly.

They are opportunistic feeders that adapt their diet based on food availability and seasonality.

Orioles primarily feed on nectar and insects during the breeding season to meet their energy and nutrient needs for reproduction and raising their young.

Fruits, tree sap, and jelly can also be attractive food options for orioles, especially during the migration or when other food sources are limited.

By providing a variety of food sources, such as nectar feeders, fresh fruits, insect-friendly gardens, and water sources, you can create an inviting environment that may attract orioles to your backyard.

Remember to always be mindful of the natural dietary needs of these birds and avoid using pesticides or insecticides that could harm them.

Enjoy the beauty and charm of orioles as they visit and dine in your backyard!


What is the primary food source for orioles?

The primary food source for orioles is nectar from flowers. They have long beaks and tongues that are specially adapted for feeding on nectar.

Do orioles eat insects?

Yes, orioles are insectivorous birds and insects are an important part of their diet. They feed on a wide range of insects, including caterpillars, beetles, spiders, and other soft-bodied insects.

Do orioles eat fruits?

Yes, orioles do eat fruits. While nectar and insects are their main food sources, orioles also consume fruits, especially soft fruits like oranges, grapefruits, and berries, when they are available.

Can orioles eat jelly?

Yes, orioles are known to be attracted to jelly. Grape or orange jelly can be offered as a sweet treat to attract orioles to your backyard.

Do orioles eat tree sap?

Yes, orioles are known to feed on tree sap. They may consume sap that is oozing from tree bark or use sap wells created by other birds, such as woodpeckers.

What should I avoid feeding orioles?

It’s important to avoid feeding orioles any food that is processed, high in sugar, or contains preservatives. Also, avoid offering food that may be harmful to their health, such as salty or spicy foods, and never feed them any type of dairy or meat products.

Can I offer orioles water to drink?

Yes, orioles need water for drinking and bathing. Providing a shallow dish of fresh water or a birdbath can be a great addition to your backyard to attract orioles.

How can I attract orioles to my backyard?

To attract orioles to your backyard, you can offer nectar feeders, fresh fruits, create insect-friendly gardens, provide a water source, and avoid using pesticides or insecticides that may harm them. Creating a welcoming environment with a variety of food sources can increase your chances of attracting orioles to your backyard.

What time of year do orioles typically visit backyards?

Orioles are migratory birds, and their presence in backyards may vary depending on the season and location. In North America, they typically arrive in the spring and stay until the fall, with peak activity during the breeding season in the summer months.

Do orioles eat the same food throughout the year?

The diet of orioles may vary throughout the year depending on food availability. During the breeding season, they may primarily feed on nectar and insects to meet their energy and nutrient needs for reproduction and raising their young. However, during the migration or when other food sources are limited, they may rely on fruits, tree sap, and other food options.

Last Updated on April 24, 2023 by Lily Aldrin

About Lily Aldrin

I am Lily Aldrin. I attended Cornell University, where I obtained my degree to become an Ornithologist so I could pursue my love of these magnificent creatures in and out of their natural habitats.

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