About us: We own the Wild Birds Unlimited nature shop in East Lansing, Michigan,
a store that provides a wide variety of supplies to help you enjoy the birdwatching hobby.

This blog was created to answer frequently asked questions & to share nature stories and photographs.
To contribute, email me at bloubird@gmail.com.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oriole baby food

This is the first year that we have managed to keep Baltimore Orioles around throughout the breeding season (we think that we have 3 pairs). Your article states that they're feeding their young, insects and I don't question that.... Recently, we can't keep our jelly feeders filled, they are ravenous and it appears that they are leaving the feeders with jelly in their beaks, both male and female....Is it possible that they are feeding their brood the jelly, in addition to the insects? Additionally, I have photos from early July last year where the Orioles are teaching their young to eat the berries in our Serviceberry trees (the first time I saw Orioles in the area). - Jack in Milford

Good question. Baltimore Orioles eat insects, fruit, and nectar. The proportion of each food varies by season: in summer, while breeding and feeding their young, much of the diet consists of insects, which are rich in the proteins needed for growth. In spring and fall, nectar and ripe fruits compose more of the diet; these sugary foods are readily converted into fat, which supplies energy for migration.

Baltimore Orioles eat a wide variety of insects, including beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, moths, and flies, as well as spiders, snails, and other small invertebrates. Many pest species are also devoured by orioles, including tent caterpillars, gypsy moth caterpillars, fall webworms, spiny elm caterpillars, and the larvae within plant galls.

I offer mealworms, jelly, sugar water, and fruit. As I watch throughout the day from the Wild Birds Unlimited store window, the mealworms are by far the most popular once the babies arrive. He sometimes shows up with his own creepy crawly that he has plucked from a tree and mixes it in with the mealworms. He then lines up mealworm, mealworm, creepy crawly, mealworm in his bill and carries them away.

Babies need a well rounded diet and my birds seem to be doing a good job of mixing it up. They start with smaller bugs and then graduate to larger bugs as the babies grow. It's possible your oriole may have decided to give his baby a sweet treat. As the chicks grow older, orioles may offer ripe fruit like apples, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes or serviceberries too.

Related Articles:
- What's the Best Way to Attract Orioles http://bit.ly/IGsyWp
- Fun Facts about Orioles http://bit.ly/IGsJB4
- Where do orioles winter? http://bit.ly/GAeWv5
- Close-up of Baltimore Oriole http://bit.ly/GAf6T7
- Favorite Oriole feeders http://t.co/OjG4Lz4