Larger birds sometimes act as bullies in the bird kingdom, scaring away and even attacking smaller birds. This usually has to do with shared food sources or other issues.
Baltimore Orioles are thought to be bullies to smaller birds like Hummingbirds.
But do they ever kill Hummingbirds?
Baltimore Orioles rarely kill hummingbirds. Only in times of extreme food scarcity have Baltimore Orioles attacked and killed hummingbirds, using them as a food source of last resort. Normally, Baltimore Orioles simply scare away hummingbirds from shared food sources, like nectar feeders.
When Baltimore Orioles Kill Hummingbirds
Baltimore Oriole attacks on hummingbirds are rare, but they have been seen and recorded in recent history.
Orioles often scare hummingbirds away from nectar feeders and other food sources, but they rarely fight and even more rarely attack to kill.
That said, Orioles have been seen attacking, killing, and even eating hummingbirds during times of extreme food scarcity.
Normally, Orioles survive on a diet of nectar, plants, and insects.
Why Baltimore Orioles Scare Hummingbirds Away
Baltimore Orioles consider hummingbirds a threat to their food sources, so they fight them off as a way of securing food and territory.
What Hummingbirds Eat
Hummingbirds use a lot of energy, so they need to eat a lot of food.
They typically eat nectar from 1,000 to 2,000 different flowers over the course of the day, as well as insects like beetles, aphids, ants, mosquitos, gnats, and wasps.
Hummingbirds are attracted to brightly colored nectar feeders like the Birds Choice Hummerdome from Amazon.com, which comes in a vibrant red.
What Baltimore Orioles Eat
Baltimore Orioles eat everything from insects to nectar. Some of their favorite foods are rich, dark-colored fruits like grapes, cherries, and mulberries.
Other foods might include Lepidoptera moths and caterpillars.
Altogether, they eat about 79% animal matter and 21% plant and vegetable matter.
They’re attracted to nectar feeders because they contain the same sugars they’d get from eating fruit.
Predators of Hummingbirds
Although Baltimore Orioles rarely attack and kill hummingbirds, attacks on hummingbirds by other creatures are more common.
Praying Mantises will wait at hummingbird feeders, stealthily waiting to spring into action when a hummingbird comes nearby.
Although a hummingbird is very fast, a Praying Mantis has even faster reflexes and can kill and eat a hummingbird even though these birds are larger than their usual meals.
Predators of adult hummingbirds include domestic cats, frogs, snakes, fish, and lizards.
Other predators hunt hummingbird eggs and young, such as large, aggressive birds like the blue jay and the crow, and small mammals like squirrels and chipmunks.
How To Keep Hummingbirds Safe at Your Feeder and in Your Lawn
Keeping hummingbirds safe at your feeder or in your lawn is a matter of keeping them protected from predators and safe from harsh environmental conditions.
You’ll want to consider how to keep bully birds like the Baltimore Oriole from scaring away hummingbirds from a feeder.
In addition, learn how to keep predators like domestic cats away, and how to provide protection from the wind and the rain.
You should also make sure that the food sources in your lawn are appropriate for a hummingbird because having the wrong plants can lead to food scarcity.
Provide the Right Food for Hummingbirds
Hummingbirds rely heavily on flowers and insects for food sources, as well as nectar feeders.
Make sure that you have hummingbird-appropriate, native plants in your garden.
Flowers with long, tubular shapes and red, pink, and orange coloration are especially attractive to hummingbirds.
Some plants that are attractive to hummingbirds include:
- Bee balm
- Coral bells
- Trumpet honeysuckle
- Fairy duster
- Fire Pink
- Red buckeye
For a comprehensive list organized by region, see the guide in the Sources section from the Audubon Society.
Hummingbirds are drawn in by bright colors, and unlike other birds, they can reach a long way down into a flower to reach nectar due to their lengthy beaks.
Ideally, you should plant patches of plants, placing three or more individual plants of each species together.
This will ensure that the hummingbirds have enough nectar to drink.
Using pesticides in your lawn can harm hummingbirds, who ingest the poison both when they ingest tainted bugs and when they ingest nectar from flowers that have been sprayed.
Rather than using an insecticide, use the above plants to bring more hummingbirds and other natural predators of insects into your yard.
Pesticides are usually not necessary, because if you plant a garden full of plants that attract hummingbirds, the birds will take care of the pests for you.
How To Keep Bully Birds Away From Your Hummingbird Feeder
In addition to Baltimore Orioles, House Finches and Woodpeckers are common visitors to hummingbird feeders.
When these larger birds visit a feeder, they scare away the hummingbirds due to their sheer size and defensive behaviors.
Thankfully, there are things you can do to keep both kinds of birds fed without conflict.
Get a separate feeder for bigger birds, like a suet feeder or a seed feeder.
You can even get a feeder specifically for orioles, like the Twinkle Star Oriole Bird Feeder from Amazon.com, which allows you to store fruits and jellies in addition to nectar.
If you use separate feeders for different birds, make sure they’re distanced from each other to discourage raiding.
You can also get a smaller feeder for your hummingbirds, one that doesn’t use a perch.
This design forces birds to remain in flight while eating from the feeder, which is difficult for most birds. For an example, see Breck’s Decorative Glass Hummingbird Feeder from Amazon.com.
Its shape mimics the shape of a flowering plant, making it easy for hummingbirds to use.
Finally, if bigger birds are still getting to your hummingbird feeder, you can try installing a bird baffle.
A baffle blocks birds from perching on the wire that holds up the feeder.
How To Keep Hummingbirds Safe From Strong Weather
Heavy wind and rain pose a danger to hummingbirds, who can easily be knocked into hard objects or be pushed down into a puddle.
To protect your local hummingbirds from the wind and the rain, plant trees and shrubs that provide shelter.
Some feeders also come with a weather-protective plastic dome attached to keep the birds sheltered from the rain while they’re feeding.