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Hooded Orioles are returning to San Diego County... Here's how to get ready!

March 08, 2020

Hooded Orioles are returning to San Diego County... Here's how to get ready!

March 2, 2020

I saw my first male Hooded Oriole return from migration to our area here in the foothills of San Diego, California this week!  Males are typically the first to arrive back from Mexico, which is a particularly common wintering spot for these orioles.

Hooded orioles are one of six species recorded in San Diego County by eBird, but by far the most common and probably the most popular because of their colorful antics. Rare oriole species include the Orchard, Baltimore and Streak-backed, while Bullock's (which inspired our logo) and Scott's orioles are more common at various times of the year. 

The Hooded and Bullock's orioles are the two most common species that breed in Southern California. Both are medium-size songbirds, about 8-inches long with slender bodies, long tail and a long, slightly curved beak. They belong to the same family as blackbirds, grackles and cowbirds.

If you plan to attract them to your backyard, there are a couple things you need to be aware of to be successful.  Keep in mind that these birds mainly eat insects, nectar and fruit, and will also visit hummingbird feeders and bird feeders for seeds, so they can sustain themselves on a wide array of foods available to them.  But like many creatures, they also like the path of least resistance.  So, start early and make it easy for them!

  1. Be sure your feeder is outside by end of February, no later than March 1st. This helps as they return to the area and decide where to nest, they may choose your vicinity since you have food already readily available for them and their future offspring.
  2. Use an orange colored oriole feeder made specifically for attracting and feeding orioles.
  3. For better results, put the feeder in view of some palm trees as this is where the Hooded orioles nest and spend quite a bit of their time. All orioles love native trees though, so being near some of their top choices will help.  This will depend on where you live, but elms, cottonwoods and sycamores are good options.
  4. I have found grape jelly or BirdBerry Jelly to be most effective for both Hooded Orioles & Scott’s Orioles here in Ramona. Orange slices are nice, but when given an option, they seem to choose the jelly or the nectar over the oranges.
  5. If you have the budget available, also get an oriole nectar feeder and hang close by still in view of the palm trees. I use a standard sugar water recipe that I also use for the Hummingbirds, which is 4-parts water to 1-part sugar. Please, no artificial coloring!
  6. It also helps to have fresh water available; a trickling fountain or bubbling bird bath will attract many species of birds to your yard. 
  7. Final note, if the bees take over your feeder, try putting the feeder in the shade as the bees prefer to feed in direct sunlight. The shade might help deter the bees. 

I love the picture below as it had just finished raining and the oriole beat the Anna's Hummingbird to the feeder.  As you can see below, the Hummer is waiting in the wing for her turn at the feeder.

I took this picture below with my phone just to show how the placement of the feeders in view of the palm trees really helps.  I used this same placement last year and had Hooded and Scott's orioles at my feeders every day.  It was such an amazing treat!

And, on a final note, I was just so excited to see these guys return on March 2nd, 2020 that I had to look up what it meant to spot the first oriole of the year.  Here's what I found…

Derived from the Latin word meaning "gold", the Oriole is the symbol of approaching summer and sunshine.  An Oriole totem reflects this symbolism bringing sunshine (or positive changes) to your life.
WHO DOESN’T LOVE POSITIVE CHANGE?  So, get those feeders out and
get ready for some sunshine, joy and positivity!!!