It’s up to you to decide whether you want to encourage orioles at feeders or prohibit them from using or occupying hummingbird feeders for extended periods of time.
Hummingbirds can use an oriole feeder, and orioles can use a hummingbird feeder. Orioles may have difficulty using a Hummingbird feeder due to the feeder’s design for smaller birds, which limits access to the feeder’s port wells for perching and drinking.
In the absence of dedicated oriole feeders, hummingbird feeders often attract a variety of birds, including orioles.
Despite your best efforts, the oriole will find a way to get to the nectar in the feeder.
Orioles don’t realize their orange oriole feeder is off-limits to everyone else and a red hummingbird feeder is reserved for the more timid birds.
Even though hummingbirds rarely visit oriole feeders because they often have their own nectar source, if the feeder is empty when the hummingbird arrives, it will drink from it.
Despite the fact that orioles may have a hard time utilizing a standard hummingbird feeder, they are nevertheless able to successfully perch, drink, and return to the same feeder day after day.
The oriole has trouble using a feeder designed for hummingbirds, which are much smaller.
In this way, a big oriole can look like it’s crammed up against the center reservoir, while a little hummer can fly right by the port wells and lose out on the honey.
The presence of orioles on hummingbird feeders can permanently scare off hummers, therefore if you draw orioles to the feeder on purpose, keep in mind that you may have to discourage this kind of activity.
Do provide a dedicated feeder for orioles to use, but never place one near a feeder for hummingbirds.
If you want to keep hummingbirds around, you need to make sure that the orioles don’t find their way to the secluded section of your yard where the hummers live.
Orioles DO use Hummingbird feeders
One of the most obvious differences between a hummingbird feeder and an oriole feeder is the latter’s focus on brighter colors.
However, if you are familiar with the way that both of these things work, you will realize that an oriole can use a hummingbird feeder with certain hurdles in place, and that a hummingbird can use an oriole feeder with size making it difficult.
I can promise you that orioles can use hummingbird feeders, notwithstanding the difficulties they may encounter.
Certain brands and designs of hummingbird feeders are more welcoming to a wider variety of hummingbird species than others.
One may be more likely to encounter an oriole on a hummingbird feeder than the other way around.
If you wish to see more orioles, you should know that they can effectively deter hummingbirds on their own.
If you want to attract orioles to your feeder, though, you’ll need to choose the tiniest hummingbird feeder available, which they’ll have trouble using.
Hummingbirds and orioles are very different in size, with the former having trouble using a little feeder and the latter having trouble using a feeder designed for a much larger bird.
Difficulty sipping in port wells
Once seated on the feeder, orioles will immediately begin swooping down toward the port feeding wells.
I can tell you right now that orioles can use a hummingbird feeder, but you should know that the port wells on those feeders are made specifically for a smaller bird with a thinner, longer bill.
Therefore, orioles will have trouble using hummingbird feeders, however this is limited to specific models.
Some commercially available hummingbird feeders feature port wells that are both large enough for a hummingbird and wide enough to accommodate other birds, such as orioles.
Despite what you may have heard, hummingbird nectar and oriole nectar are chemically identical, with the only difference being the type of bird that benefits from the mixture.
If you want orioles to visit your hummingbird feeder, you need to make sure the port wells are large enough to accommodate the shorter, thicker bill of an oriole.
Orioles tight squeeze on perches
The problem arises when orioles show up at a hummingbird feeder full with nectar to take the mixture, but the feeder is too tiny to accommodate the birds.
Orioles may have trouble perching on a hummingbird feeder, regardless of its size.
A tiny hummer will perch, lean over, and drink nectar from strategically placed port wells just a few inches away.
The first thing you could notice if an oriole were perched there is that it has a hard time getting comfortable there because it has to overshoot the port wells just below it and looks like it is squished up against the nectar reservoir.
Typically, orioles are too large to fit into hummingbird feeders, but a saucer-shaped feeder may make things easier.
A hummingbird feeder’s perch is narrow so that hummers can fit their feet over it, while an oriole feeder’s perches are wider to accommodate the larger bird.
Orioles are resourceful birds that will persist in trying to drink from hummingbird feeders despite my warnings since they prefer to feed at larger, easier-to-reach feeders.
Orioles sip on identical mixture
In fact, the very fact that orioles will use your hummingbird feeder is proof that anything you put in an oriole feeder may also be safely used for hummingbirds.
While it may not be your goal, other birds such as orioles, chickadees, finches, woodpeckers, warblers, titmouse, and many more can be attracted to a hummingbird feeder by the energizing homemade nectar.
In the same way that orioles will happily drink sugar water meant for hummingbirds, orioles will also happily drink nectar created in the same way.
The question then becomes why, despite some barriers, orioles wouldn’t eat the food offered by hummingbird feeders if they were able to get to it.
Hummingbirds might be scared away from feeders by orioles, so it’s important to decide whether you want to attract or discourage them.
Hummingbirds can return to the feeders on the pole specifically for them to drink, and I recommend getting an oriole feeder to at least try to keep them away.
Never use too much or too little sugar while preparing homemade nectar; doing so can make hummingbirds and orioles sick, and providing insufficient sugar will ensure that neither species receives a sufficient energy boost.
Bee guard can deter Orioles
Now that you know orioles can, with some effort, use hummingbird feeders, you’ll have to decide whether you want to attract them or discourage them.
I have a soft spot for orioles and wouldn’t go out of my way to chase them away, but keep in mind that if you let them near your hummingbird feeder, they can end up eating all the nectar and starving to death.
Having two or three hummingbird feeders in your yard will solve this problem by allowing more birds to feed at once and reducing the likelihood of territorial disputes among them.
Using a hummingbird feeder that isn’t an upside-down bottle is the best way to discourage orioles from hanging around, as the narrow space is difficult for them to navigate.
Orioles won’t be deterred from giving it a go with all that in place.
To further discourage bees from swarming around hummingbird feeders, nectar bee guards can be attached to the feeders.
Hummingbird feeders from different brands may include removable bee guards, but they are never compatible with one another.
Hummingbirds, with their extraordinarily long and slender bills, can fit through the holes in these bee guards, but bees and other birds cannot.
In the same way that hummingbirds can use oriole feeders, orioles can use hummingbird feeders, but they will have an easier time doing so on the latter.
An oriole’s thicker but shorter bill may not fit into the port wells of a hummingbird feeder, even if the feeder is the proper size for perching and sipping.
For the same reason that a larger oriole would have trouble reaching the nectar in a hummingbird feeder designed for smaller birds, a larger oriole would have trouble reaching the nectar in a hummingbird feeder designed for smaller birds because of the uniform spacing between the perches and port wells.
When using a vertical nectar reservoir, orioles may feel squished, but they’ll have plenty of room when using a saucer-shaped hummingbird feeder.
Hummingbird feeders are loaded with a sugar-to-water ratio of about one part sugar to four parts water, which is exactly what orioles prefer in their own feeders.
When shopping for a feeder, keep in mind that hummingbird feeders are typically red and oriole feeders are typically orange.
If there is an abundance of nectar, hummingbirds and orioles won’t care what color the flowers are.
Large orioles can utilize hummingbird feeders, although they have trouble reaching the port wells from the perches.
Though the port wells themselves can be wide enough for orioles to drink from, they are typically designed much too narrow for them to do so.