We were at the market in Caseville about a week ago and someone brought up the topic of when the hummingbirds will show up. I’ll admit that in the Upper Thumb there is a big nectar feeder culture. We look forward to seeing these migratory visitors show up each spring as a sign of warmer days ahead.
The robins make their way here about mid-March to feast on insects and worms emerging from the frozen earth. The next anticipated migratory birds to swoop in on the scene is the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and Baltimore Oriole. After spending, the winter in Mexico, Cuba and Central America theses migratory birds make their way to the Great Lakes by mid April.
With a little persistence, you can attract hummingbirds and orioles to your cottage within a few weeks and enjoy this colorful resident for the entire summer season.
For Orioles Set up Colorful Feeders Early
- Orange is the New Black – Orioles are attracted to bright vibrant orange. We found that having an orange or bright red feeder draws the birds in for the feast. Set the sliced orange halves in a shallow bit of water to discourage ants. Replace the oranges daily. If you see mold, clean out the feeder. Mold can be harmful to the birds.
- Set Up Feeders Early in the Season – We think orioles have a great memory and hummingbirds are demanding. One early spring we noted that the hummingbirds were buzzing us until the feeder was placed. Placing your feeders out early will catch the early arrivals and may turn those passing through to seasonal residents.
- Keep Oriole Feeders Out in the Open – We have seen the most active oriole feeder posted in the middle of the yard. Orioles will fly in, take a sip or two of the sweet nectar then fly off to a nearby perch to finish up, preen and do it again.
If You See an Oriole Nest, Switch to Bugs
- Mealworms – If you are lucky enough to see one of the small sack like nests in your yard change up the diet to mealworms. In the spring, the birds crave the sweet from fruit nectar after their long migratory flight north. Once breeding and nesting season starts they will begin to seek out insects. Mealworms are a great high-protein food that will build them up for their fall flight south.
- Leave Oriole Nests in Place – The bird won’t reuse the nest but the will reused the material. Orioles will set their nests out on slender green twigs to discourage predators. We found nests in small trees about six feet off the ground. Experts suggest offering lengths of twine or horsehair. Sadly we have seen small spreads of plastic wrap incorporated in a nest.
Create a Bird Spa
- Water – Orioles are attracted to shallow moving water. Pick a shallow basin and add a small pump or bubbler to keep the water moving. Change the bath when you see crud or droppings
- Place Oriole Feeders Away from You – Orioles are typically shy. They do not like a lot of traffic from humans or animals. Try to locate your feeder in an open area where it can be seen from the air and treetops. Placement in a high branch or on top of a pole is ideal. We have place one feeder on a tree outside our kitchen window with great success.
- Multiple Hummingbird Feeders – If your successful drawing in the small birds, consider placing several nectar feeds in close proximity.
Hummingbird Food Tips
- Offer Clear Sugar Solution – We use the same recipe for both orioles and hummingbirds. Add one cup Big Chief granulated sugar to four cups of boiling water. Stir and let cool. Refrigerate unused portion. Never use food coloring. Or Orioles, some experts recommend diluting the sugar water to eight parts water to 1 part sugar.
- Grape Jelly is OK – A favorite alternative to sugar solution is a small amount of grape jelly. A couple of tablespoons in an secure dish is like ringing the dinner bell. You may see some aggressive behavior by the orioles as they vie for feeding rights. Hummingbirds will also visit a jelly station. Experts suggest mixing a ¼ cup of water into the jelly.
- Clean Feeder Means Healthy Birds – If you see black mold form in and around your feeder take it in and wash it out. This advice is especially true for hummingbird feeders. The sweet nectar will draw in ants and other critters.