Have you started to offer nectar feeders in your backyard to attract birds such as orioles and hummingbirds? The problem is that some birds can bully others and feeder conflict is a real issue. So you’re probably wondering do hummingbirds and orioles get along?
Hummingbirds and orioles can coexist peacefully if you create the right environment for them. Both birds can happily eat from the same nectar feeder. Dominant orioles may sometimes chase, attack or kill hummingbirds. Usually, this is when the oriole feels their food source is under threat.
Now you know that a hummingbird and oriole can get along, you’ll want to know how to create that perfect environment in your yard. This will allow you to have both these majestic birds visit your feeders.
But first, let’s look at why hummingbirds and orioles may not get along at times.
Why Do Orioles Chase hummingbirds?
Orioles can be aggressive with hummingbirds at feeders. The reason they can chase hummingbirds off is that they are both competing for a good food source.
Both hummingbirds and orioles eat a similar diet of nectar and insects.
If the oriole feels that there is little food supply to go around, they will defend that food to ensure their species survives.
Orioles are much larger than hummingbirds and can easily overpower them. Most hummingbirds would quickly back off from a fight with an oriole.
Yet some hummingbirds can be quite aggressive and may not back down. Especially if they are also worried about finding a good food supply.
The species of hummingbird that orioles mostly encounter is the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This species of hummingbird is one of the most aggressive hummingbirds in the USA.
Although it’s rare that an oriole will kill a hummingbird, it’s not unusual.
The best way to stop hummingbirds and orioles fighting is to prevent conflict in the first place. Let’s take a look at how you can create an environment that will help both bird species coexist peacefully.
Why you need hummingbirds and Orioles to Get along
Aggressive behavior comes naturally to birds. They need this behavior to ensure their species survives in the wild. Yet they don’t understand that nectar feeders can easily be replenished as food sources.
Let’s look at a few reasons why it’s best to discourage aggression between hummingbirds and orioles.
Hummingbirds are heavily reliant on nectar to survive every day. In fact, some need to consume up to 8 times their body weight to function. Yet an aggressive oriole can make it hard for a hummingbird to meet this daily requirement. That means hummingbirds will have to waste energy looking for another source of food.
It’s rare that orioles will fight with hummingbirds for feeders, but it does happen. A large oriole can easily injure or kill a small hummingbird. An injury may not kill a hummingbird, yet it can make them more vulnerable to disease or other predators.
A young inexperienced hummingbird may not understand that a fight with an oriole can be lethal for them.
Hummingbirds stop feeding
If you have a few orioles that have overtaken your hummingbird feeders it may mean the end of your hummingbird watching. If the hummingbirds feel too threatened to visit your feeders, they’ll stop coming around. They go somewhere that they can get a food source without feeling threatened.
It is important that hummingbirds can secure a good food source that their mates and offspring can feed on too. The risk of Oriole attack is likely to prevent the hummingbirds from using your feeders as part of their territory.
This can really make you feel disheartened that you miss the hummingbirds. You can even start to feel resentment toward the orioles because of this.
How to Feed Hummingbirds and Orioles
1. Get more feeders
If you only have one nectar feeder you’re going to have conflict in your yard. You’ll increase the chances of a hummingbird and an oriole fighting. But more likely you’ll increase the risk of a bully hummingbird dominating your feeder.
Migrating hummingbirds will claim your nectar feeder as it’s an excellent food source for them. If an oriole invades this territory an aggressive hummingbird will not be happy about it.
The best way to avoid orioles and hummingbirds fighting over a feeder is to use more than one feeder to meet the demand of your visiting birds. With more feeders available the birds soon realize there is enough to go around and they don’t need to fight for their share.
I’d recommend having at least two feeders, one for your hummingbirds to use and the other for your orioles.
Both species can have their own types of feeders to help them to feed easily. Both species can use a nectar feeder intended for the other bird. But the feeders specific to each species are designed to help them feed easier, as they have different beak shapes.
Hummingbirds can visit your feeders in large numbers. For that reason, I would recommend a hummingbird feeder which has at least 10 feeding ports to allow as many hummers to feed as possible (these ones are ideal).
Oriole feeders don’t need to have quite as many feeding ports as they only feed alone or in pairs. This is a great nectar feeder designed for orioles.
2. Offer other foods
Nectar makes up a significant part of a hummingbird’s diet and they need to consume lots of it every day to ensure their survival. For orioles, nectar isn’t quite as important as they have a fairly varied diet.
As orioles eat a lot of other foods you can try offering these up for them as a distraction from the nectar feeders. If an oriole has an offer of fresh oranges, grape jelly, or mealworms, they’ll head over for those goodies rather than defending the nectar.
Orioles can’t hover like hummingbirds can, so they need a place to sit and graze on other foods.
Buying an oriole feeder which you can offer fruit, jelly, and mealworms is the best way to give the Orioles their own feeding area. This is the best-selling oriole feeder on Amazon.
If the oriole has access to both the nectar and these other foods, they will think that food is plentiful in your yard. This makes the orioles less likely to panic or become aggressive against other birds they see as a threat.
3. Use color
If you don’t want to offer up other foods for the orioles you can still use different nectar feeders for them. One way to attract hummingbirds and orioles to different feeders is to use color. Hummingbirds are attracted to the color red. Orioles are attracted to the color orange.
Feeders which use these colors will help encourage the birds to visit their intended feeder.
You may still see the other species use each feeder. Yet you’ll find that each species will soon pick a preferred feeder and try to feed on this spot each time.
You can also hang a basket of red flowers near the hummingbird nectar feeder. That way an aggressive oriole may be ok with hummingbird feeding on these. This allows the hummingbird to get a source of food, without threatening the oriole.
4. Space feeders out
Once you have a few feeders in your yard you should try and space them out as much as possible. I would recommend around 15-20 ft apart.
This will make the birds aware of each other but they will be unable to defend more than one feeder easily.
You may even want to try and keep the feeders out of sight of each other. Both species can have their own separate feeding areas that won’t make the other feel threatened.
Also if an oriole does chase a hummingbird off one feeder, it can fly to another nearby feeder and eat in peace
5. Plant flowers
Planting more flowers in your yard will ensure you attract more orioles and hummingbirds to your yard. This will provide a natural food source for both bird species.
These can be used by hummingbirds whilst the orioles feed. This will help provide them with a natural food source without them wasting energy having to find another one.
You’ll want to plant nectar-producing flowers that are native to your area. Try to stick to flowers with red and orange flower heads as these colors will attract hummingbirds and orioles.
Planting flowers will also attract more insects into your yard. Insects are a vital source of protein for both of these birds and will help to keep them healthy.
If you don’t have many plant beds for flowers you can use hanging baskets from your porch or on shepherd poles.
6. Be reliable
One of the best ways to reduce aggression in birds is to make it clear that your feeders are a reliable source of food. This will give both the hummingbird and oriole a sense of security that these feeders can provide what they need.
Keeping your feeders well-filled means that the orioles won’t need to compete for what’s available. They also won’t wander over to the hummingbird feeders because theirs is empty.
Hummingbirds and orioles can co-exist at your backyard feeders as long as you create the right environment for them. These birds are competing over a food source. If you make your yard plentiful in food, you will give them the security that they don’t need to fight for what’s available.
I’d recommend using plenty of feeders and offering a range of feed that the orioles and hummingbirds can eat.
Use these techniques in your yard and you’ll be watching both of these beautiful birds eating at your feeders in no time.