One reason that orioles are popular backyard birds is simply that they tend to nest right in your backyard. Their beauty, frequent songs, and unique nests attract humans better than we could ever attract them.
If you've never had the pleasure of watching a bird assemble a nest or tend to its young, the experience is worth the effort of finding or attracting the bird. Attracting orioles can be more enjoyable than watching them. The best way to attract orioles is to offer them a variety of foods and an inviting habitat in your own backyard.
By providing food, you are already making your property an attractive area for birds. The more obvious the food is, the better. Orioles do not always recognize sugar water feeders as sources of nectar right away, so it takes time. Fruits, especially oranges, can be placed on commercial feeders, on deck railings, or through nails hammered into tree trunks. Fruit jelly works as well, best offered in shallow containers. Mealworms are an experimental new way to attract orioles. Place all feeders where orioles will notice them very easily, such as in gardens, near shrubs, hanging in trees, or on a pole right smack in the middle of your yard. Orioles tend to look for nectar in gardens and shrubs.
A good oriole habitat has good food sources and plenty of shrubbery and trees. Different species of orioles have different preferences for the types of trees they build their nests in, but if nesting material is readily available, they may just take any tree in your yard. The best way to provide such materials is to place it in a basket or a wire mesh suet feeder that is near a feeder, a favorite tree of the birds, or on another pole placed in the middle of your yard. Nesting materials include horsehair, milkweed bark, wiry grasses, plant fibers, and even cloth strips. Many orioles, especially the Baltimore orioles, use materials from willows, poplars, and aspens, and they may decide to put their nest in one of those trees as well!
One thing to remember is that some orioles are in one place all year, while others migrate. The migratory species come up from Central America in mid-March, move up through April so that they reach the northern states and into Canada by early May. When in doubt of the presence of orioles in your area, leave the feeders out. Put them out by the time orioles are scheduled to arrive in the spring, and leave them out until you are sure they have all migrated south. When orioles are migrating, food is often scarce and they need plenty of energy for their trip. Feeders can save many orioles from starvation at these critical times.