Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Grape Jelly for the Birds~Good or Bad?

Howdee all,

Since Ballie was diagnosed with CRF I have been sticking close to home and hanging out with him to see how he reacts to the medications.

Ballie is doing much better~not gaining weight, but he seems happier.

He likes looking at the birds and chippymonks.


My parents put Grape Jelly out for the Baltimore Orioles

MOM AND DADS_005There is a constant flow of birds to the jelly…

MOM AND DADS_007An addictive food…

MOM AND DADS_008I wondered how good it really is for them..So I googled and found this information.

From Laura's Birding Blog a post from 2007

Laura was questioning  her own  use of Grape Jelly for the Orioles

A reader sent the following…go to Laura's Blog to read more…

Kay Charter, who writes:

I confess that I had a prejudice against this practice [feeding jelly] the first time I saw it...about twenty years ago in a relative's yard. It just didn't look right. So I did some much as it is possible to do, which isn't much and it certainly hasn't been quantified, but it all makes sense. One source was a good friend who is an internist...he said that high sugar foods may trigger a bird's satiety gland, much as it does in children, causing it to feel satisfied when it has had little in the way of nutritional value. He also said that sugar may be addictive for birds as it certainly can be in humans, and that a bird might develop a strong liking for jelly and spend less time searching for natural foods.
Then I queried my friend, Kent Mahaffey, who was manager of the San Diego Wild Animal Park's famous free-flight Bird Show for more than two decades. Kent had primary care responsibility for hundreds of birds from many families. He said he would never allow any birds under his care to have jelly

  • In general, any food that exceeds the balance of sucrose in a bird's natural diet is suspect. Natural nectars contain 12% to 30% sugars, while jams and jellies are more than half sugar. He also said that higher than normal sugar loads may outstrip a bird's ability to adequately process the sugar (as it does in humans); and products high in sugars are an ideal environment for bacterial growth.

He summarized as follows: "Birds developed the way they did by adapting to the environments in which they lived and the foods that sustained them. We do our best for them when we stick as closely as possible to their natural diets."

Birdchick commented on Laura's Post

I'm not sure I'm ready to jump on the anti-jelly bandwagon yet. Birds do have a way of regulating their diet. Orioles do stop eating jelly and that ends right about the time oriole chicks hatch--I think they know enough to switch to protein heavy foods.
Also, when people tend to go through jelly the most is during migration, you aren't getting the same oriole coming all day long, you're getting several coming through out the day, they aren't eating only jelly.
Of course, this is only based on anecdotal evidence so it's not scientific.


This information from the Birdwatchers General Store

This brings us to a subject that many oriole fans don’t like to think about. In recent years, offering birds grape jelly has become super popular. In some cases it’s become the birds’ food of choice. As is the case with many humans, orioles like anything sweet and the sweeter the better. Grape jelly is very sweet, maybe too sweet. It has a higher concentration of sugar than oranges or the sugar water mixture we put in our feeders. There’s a concern that the birds are ingesting too much of a good thing. And what is worse, the adults often feed globs of jelly to their babies. That’s bad. Our good intentions could cause young orioles to have unintended health problems, not to mention astronomical dental bills.

My suggestion is to use jelly in May when the orioles first arrive. It will give them the boost of energy they need after their long migration. However, it’s been suggested that we discontinue using jelly when the babies hatch in June and early July. Also, use “low sugar” jelly, but not anything with artificial sweetener in it. (Even birds hate that crap) And most importantly, offer jelly in very small amounts. It’s critical that we do all we can to prevent the birds from getting the sticky jelly on their feathers. Each summer wildlife rehabilitators have to clean scores of helpless orioles that end up with sticky and matted feathers.

Via Birdwatchers General Store

Duncraft has BirdBerry Grape Jelly that they say is better for the birds because it contains no corn sweeteners.

I still don’t know what the right thing to do is for the birds..

Anyone out there want to chime in with some information?

The Oriole wants Jelly.



  1. Doesn't seem like grape jelly is replicated anywhere in nature.

  2. I don't think a couple months a year will hurt them. The ones coming to my grape jelly appear to be in great health. If they showed any signs of poor feather condition, or illness, I would immediately think about discontinuing the jelly.

    Does this relate to Hummingbirds too? They eat sugared water from my feeder throughout the day.

  3. Using hummingbirds as an example, they come to my feeders only when nectar is low. Right now, they are because the honeysuckle bloom is over and the mimosa tree won't bloom until July. I don't feed jelly to Orioles but I suspect the birds wouldn't come to the jelly if they had natural nectar like black locust trees where I have seen them. If the jelly is natural and especially organic, I can't see the harm.

  4. Wow fantastic.... I did not know they were eating jellies! Incredible!

  5. Don't know about the jelly issue which seems to be explored.

    I do like the last photo of the jelly dripping from it's bill.

    Then I thought I'd drop by here and comment rather then a "like" button at FB ;)

  6. oops...I meant "which needs to be..."

  7. What a dilemma. We put out Smucker's Low Sugar Concord Grape Jelly. It has no artificial sweeteners or colors. Natural sweeteners, such as pure cane sugar, would be much better than high fructose corn syrup.

    I too believe, for the ~3 months that they are here, that it does no harm. I think the important thing to consider, as with Hummingbird nectar, is that NO dyes are used.


  8. I hope Ballie takes to his medication okay. As for the Oriole's never knew they liked jelly. Thanks for all that info. I found it all very interesting.

  9. Good information in this post.I never gave much thought about using jelly before but I think I'll avoid it now and just stick to feeding fruit or other natural foods. Great pics of the oriole!

  10. Great shots of the orioles, Dawn! I have only seen one oriole in my yard during the migration. They do not hang around here. I wish I saw them more often in my yard. I do keep out an orange and jelly feeder out and I have seen the Catbirds eating the jelly. But then they also love the meal worms I put out too.

  11. Great photography and very interesting post.

  12. Good information. We don't have to worry since apparently the Blue Jays are the only birds attracted to our beautiful oriole feeder with its grape jelly. I don't care for Blue Jays, so I stopped putting out jelly. I tend to agree with Birdchick. As nature's food is more abundant, the birds come less often to feeders.

  13. I think anything man made that really isn't good enough for us, is really even worse for the birds. You can attract Orioles by placing cut oranges out instead of something they were never intended to eat.

  14. I went through a 32oz jar of grape jelly in about a week. Mostly orioles and sparrows eating it. I'm thinking it might not be so healthy for them. They are back and forth often. If they eat much more of this stuff, they are gonna be too fat to fly south in the fall. I could see creating an unhealthy addiction. Call me the candyman.

  15. Thanks for all the tips mentioned in this article! it’s always good to read things you have heard before and are implementing, but from a different perspective, always pick up some extra bits of information. Visit@


ok what do you really think?????