10 Savage Appetite: Do Orioles Eat Mealworms

If you’re a bird enthusiast, attracting orioles to your backyard can be delightful. Oriole’s love for mealworm, a high-protein, nutritious food source, can be used to entice them. In this article, we’ll explore orioles’ captivating world, their dietary habits, and how to attract them. So, do orioles eat mealworms? Let’s find out how these beautiful birds respond to this tasty treat in your outdoor space!

Do Orioles Eat Mealworms?

Orioles are brightly colored songbirds that migrate through many parts of North America each spring and summer. With their striking orange and black plumage, orioles bring beauty and excitement to backyards and gardens. If you want to attract these birds to your yard, knowing what foods orioles eat is key. In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about oriole diet and feeding preferences.

What Foods Do Orioles Eat?

do orioles eat mealworms

Orioles are omnivores, meaning they eat both plant and animal matter. Their diverse diets help them adapt to seasonal changes in food availability. The top foods that orioles readily eat include:


Orioles have a particular fondness for sweet fruits. They especially relish berries, cherries, citrus fruits, grapes, apples, figs, bananas, and melons. Offer chopped fruit in small pieces or skewered onto spikes on an oriole feeder. Avoid dried fruits which can be choking hazards for these birds.


Orioles drink flower nectar and tree sap to obtain sugars and carbohydrates. You can offer homemade nectar mixes in specialty feeders designed for orioles and hummingbirds. More details on nectar recipes later in this article.


Protein-rich insects make up a sizable portion of the oriole diet. Caterpillars, spiders, beetles, ants, bees, crickets, grasshoppers, flies, and mealworm are all fair game for foraging orioles. They often find insects on flowers and foliage or capture them mid-flight.

Pollen and Nectar

To round out their diet, orioles will supplement with pollen from flowers and nectar from flower blossoms. These food sources offer vital amino acids, fatty acids, vitamins, and minerals.

Now that you know the main components of an oriole’s wild diet, let’s go over the best offerings to provide in your own yard.

Feed Grape Jelly to Orioles

One of the most popular human-offered foods used to attract orioles is grape jelly. Orioles gravitate to the sweet taste and jelly-like consistency. It’s generally recommended to offer grape jelly during spring and fall migration when other natural foods may be more scarce.

You can provide grape jelly in small cups attached to platform feeders or impaled in fruit spikes. Make sure to use all-fruit or 100% grape jelly varieties without added preservatives. Also, be vigilant about keeping the jelly fresh to avoid spoilage that could sicken birds.

Some people advise putting out grape jelly in orange halves or rinds. While visually appealing, this technique can concentrate sugar content to unhealthy levels. It’s safer to serve jelly in open cups that allow orioles to regulate intake. Monitor consumption and adjust jelly amounts to prevent waste from uneaten portions.

How Do Orioles Find Feeders?

Orioles locate backyard feeders primarily through their sharp eyesight. Motion and color also help attract them. Consider these tips:


Situate feeders near trees along natural flight paths where orioles travel and forage. Placing them near dense woods or landscaping gives birds quick escape cover if needed.


Bright colors grab an oriole’s attention. Choose feeders with orange accents or place orange tape, flags, flowers, or sliced fruit nearby. Avoid red colors which blue jays and hummingbirds might key in on instead.


Add movement by hanging grape jelly cups, suet cages, or flashy tin pie pans from branches. Breezes will create motion and flashes of light to catch the birds’ eyes.

Time of Day

Orioles actively feed early morning and late afternoon. Have feeders stocked and ready during these peak activity periods.

With strategic feeder placement and offerings, you’ll soon delight in seeing orioles fly in to partake. Now let’s examine what types of feeders work best.

Feeder TypeDescriptionTips
Nectar FeedersDesigned to dispense homemade nectar mixes. Have small perches and feeding ports.Choose models made from easy-clean materials with ant moats or guards. Select bright colors like orange or yellow.
Fruit FeedersHold skewers, spokes, or platforms with small bite-sized fruit chunks.Ensure sharp points are dulled or covered to prevent injuries. Include drainage holes to minimize spoiled fruit mess.
Jelly FeedersShallow bins, trays, or cups specifically for offering grape jelly.Look for removable parts for easy cleaning and models with protective covers to limit other pests.
Suet FeedersTypically cages or mesh bags for holding suet cakes or plugs.Select durable steel mesh construction. Extend suet out from trees/buildings for access.
Oriole Party BallsPlastic balls drilled with small holes stuffed with treats like jelly, fruit, mealworm.Ensure openings allow food extraction but aren’t choking hazards. Situate for easy swinging motion.

Table 1: Types of feeders used to feed orioles

Following best practices tailored to each feeder style will lead to great experiences observing these colorful songbirds.

Do Orioles Use Hummingbird Feeders?

do orioles eat mealworms

Orioles and hummingbirds often migrate and breed along similar routes and schedules. So don’t be surprised to see orioles curiously checking out your hummingbird feeders. Their forceful stabs to reach nectar can damage more delicate feeders though.

It’s fine to let orioles occasionally drink from hummingbird feeders. But avoiding overcrowding at these sources intended primarily for tiny hummers is wise. The best solution is offering separate nectar stations specially made for orioles.

Choose oriole feeder styles able to accommodate larger birds without inhibiting access for smaller species. Having multiple small feeder ports at different heights works well. Clean all feeders thoroughly every few days to prevent dangerous mold growth.

Be sure to hang both oriole and hummingbird feeders in visible locations with natural protection from predators. This allows for safe feeding opportunities that support both special species.

How to Keep Ants Away From Oriole Feeders

The sugary nectar and fruit products offered in oriole feeders can also attract unwanted insect pests like ants. These tiny invaders contaminate food sources and can transfer diseases between birds. Here are some effective methods to deter ants:

Use Ant Moats

Look for feeder bases designed with water-filled ant moats. Ants cannot swim or float across these barriers surrounding the feeder mount or hanger. Make sure to periodically change moat water to prevent mosquito breeding.

Apply Vegetable Oil

Coat hanging wires, strings, poles, and outer feeder parts with non-toxic vegetable oil. The slippery surface prevents ants from crossing to food supplies. Reapply monthly or after rains wash oil away.

Try Tanglefoot Paste

This non-toxic sticky paste forms a barrier ants cannot traverse. Spread a ring around wires, poles, branches, or trunks suspending feeders. Reapply every two weeks as needed.

Mix Borax Powder

Sprinkle this natural mineral along ant trails or around feeder mounting locations. Ants ingest the powder back to nests which kills them. Avoid piles that birds or pets could contact directly.

Hang Bags of Water

Fill plastic bags with water and hang below feeders. Refraction from moving water confuses ants and disrupts their scent trails so they cannot reach food.

With some clever deterrent placements, you can enjoy watching orioles and minimize worries about ants causing problems. Keep feeders clean, nectar fresh, and fruit well-stocked for best results. Now let’s go over making your own oriole nectar blends.

How to Make Oriole Nectar

While you can purchase pre-made powdered nectar mixes, concocting your own homemade blends is easy, affordable, and allows customization to your feeder visitors’ tastes.

Follow these simple steps:


  • 1 Part Granulated White Sugar
  • 4 Parts Water

Never use brown sugar, raw sugar, honey, or sweeteners with artificial colors or preservatives


  1. Boil water and dissolve sugar completely.
  2. Allow to cool before filling feeders.
  3. Refrigerate extra unused portions up to 1 week.
  4. Rinse feeders and replace nectar every 2-3 days.

You can experiment with adding small amounts of fruit juice for variation. Apple, oranges, and grape juices appeal to oriole preferences. Just be careful not to make blends with more than 10% juice content to avoid health issues.

Keeping nectar fresh is crucial since fermented, moldy mixes can cause serious damage to birds’ digestive systems. Follow proper refrigeration and changing schedules. Now let’s look specifically at offering mealworm to attract orioles.

Feed Orioles Mealworms in Summer

do orioles eat mealworms

Mealworm make up a substantial portion of an oriole’s summer diet. These larvae of darkling beetles are packed with 18 amino acids making them a nutritious choice. Orioles gobble them up to fuel energetic nesting routines and feed growing fledglings.

You can buy live or dried mealworm from pet stores or online shops. Offer them in platform feeders, mesh bags, or specially designed mealworm feeders with small perches.

Some tips for offering mealworm:

  • Serve live worms in flat trays or bowls to prevent escape.
  • Replenish small batches daily since they die quickly in heat.
  • Soak dried mealworm in water before serving to rehydrate.
  • Avoid adding oils, preservatives, salts, or flavorings.
  • Ensure young nestlings cannot choke on large worms.

Mealworm are great supplementary snacks that keep birds returning all season long. Just take care to properly maintain these live insects. Now let’s look at high-fat suet options.

Do Orioles Eat Suet?

Suet is nutrient-dense animal fat provided in cakes, chunks, or plugs that attracts birds requiring higher fat intake. While suet is more commonly associated with winter woodpeckers and chickadees, orioles will also eat rendered fat.

Most backyard birding guides don’t specifically mention suet as an enticement for these birds. However, orioles will consume suet, especially as they build up fat stores before fall migration.

You can offer suet in open cages, pinecone feeders, mesh bags, and bark butter smears during summer months. Just keep it fresher more regularly in warmer temperatures to prevent spoilage. Some tips for serving suet cakes to orioles:

  • Choose insect-based suet blends with added nuts, seeds, or berries.
  • Ensure cakes remain solid and don’t drip in heat.
  • Situate near natural perches for easy access.
  • Pair with other offerings like nectar and jelly.

While suet alone won’t be as big an attractant as fruits or insects, it makes a nice nutritional supplement. Position near other feeders and water sources for convenience.

Start Feeding Orioles Early and Don’t Give Up!

The key to supporting returning and new visiting orioles is starting seasonal feeders early. Begin putting out nectar blends, fruits, jelly, and mealworm as soon as weather allows in early spring.

It may take a few weeks for orioles to discover and associate your yard as a viable food source along migration routes. Don’t get discouraged by initial low visitor numbers.

Be sure to keep feeders freshly stocked. Consider moving locations around your yard to better intersect flight paths. Birds quickly establish feeding routines so aiming to attract them early when they’re exploring sites is vital.

With the right offerings in optimal spots, your feeders soon will be flooded with brilliant migratory birds feasting and fueling up. Ensuring you have the foods and feeders orioles love makes your backyard an annual destination!

Now that we’ve covered key aspects of an oriole’s diet and feeding approaches, let’s review some common questions.

What fruits do orioles eat?

Frequently Asked Questions About Oriole Diet and Feeding

Orioles prefer sweet juicy fruits and berries such as oranges, grapes, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, mulberries, bananas, melon, apples, pineapple, mango, figs, and native plants like spicebush, sumac, or elderberries. Offer bite size chunks skewered or in small cups.

Do orioles eat mealworms and insects?

Yes! Orioles eat a wide variety of insects like caterpillars, beetles, crickets, grubs, and mealworm to obtain key protein. Serve live mealworm in flat trays or bowls. Avoid dried insects with artificial flavors or additives.

What nectar should I offer orioles?

Prepare thin sugar-water nectar using 1 part white granulated sugar dissolved thoroughly in 4 parts boiled water. Cool before filling feeders. Avoid using brown sugar, raw sugar, or alternative sweeteners which could harm birds.

How often should oriole nectar be replaced?

Nectar ferments quickly in heat allowing dangerous molds to grow. Change nectar every 2-3 days in warm weather. Rinse feeders well with diluted vinegar and replace nectar more frequently if you note cloudiness or slimy buildup.

Should oriole feeders be taken down in winter?

Yes, since orioles only reside in areas during spring and summer breeding seasons. Remove nectar feeders by late fall to discourage hummingbirds from overwintering. Resume feeds in early spring months before migration resumes. Clean well before storage.

What Feeder style works well for orioles?

Open-styled platforms and cups allow easy access. Choose bright orange or yellow feeders with small perch areas. Have drainage holes in fruit feeders to eliminate messy waste buildup. Select sturdy mesh for suet offerings.

How can I keep bees and wasps away from hummingbird/oriole nectar feeders?

Use feeders with protective covers, mesh screens, or bee guards to limit pest access while still allowing ornithological feeding. Employ natural repellants like cloves, allspice, or cinnamon oils on non-food areas.

Where should I hang oriole feeders in my yard?

Situate feeders near trees and landscaping features offering natural cover for quick escapes. Position 8-10 feet off ground near habitat edges adjacent to woods or fields. Cluster different feeding stations together to create activity zones.

What are the best times of day to see orioles?

Orioles actively feed most frequently early morning and late afternoons. Having feeders pre-stocked during these peak periods increases visitors. Be patient for routines to develop as migration ebbs and flows.


Attracting colorful orioles to your backyard is extremely rewarding. Offering the right blend of sweet fruits, nutrient-packed insects, nectar, jelly, suet, and mealworms appeals to these birds’ appetites. Use selective feeders and strategic placement to create an enticing bird buffet.

Monitoring feeder supplies, cleaning regularly, and employing pest deterrents helps ensure positive feeding experiences. Timing seasonal feeder setups to early spring migrations boosts exposure. Observe bird behaviors and adapt offerings accordingly for best results.

With the proper knowledge of oriole dietary preferences covered here, you’ll delight in many bright feathery visitors feasting from your garden habitat for years to come!

About the Author: Hudaibia

My name is Hudaibia with the profound passion for our feathered friends. Birds have captivated my heart and mind since childhood. Now I share my avian devotion through my website, mybirdfeed.com.