Apr 18, 2018 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2017

Dear Birdsquatch: Feeding Jelly to Orioles?

Orioles and other birds like the sugar content of the jelly, but what we don't know is how the other ingredients in the jelly might be affecting the birds that consume it.
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Dear Birdsquatch:

I know you love blueberry pie, and I've heard that orioles love grape jelly. I'm partial to strawberry jelly, though. Is it okay to feed orioles jelly other than grape?

—Susan T., Exeter, Rhode Island

Dear Susan,

There are a lot of opinions on the whole feeding jelly to birds questions. Sure, orioles and other birds like the sugar content of the jelly, but what we don't know is how the other ingredients in the jelly might be affecting the birds that consume it. Check the label of your favorite brand. Does it contain artificial flavors or colorings? It might contain stabilizers and food dye in it and perhaps some other stuff. Maybe it's safe for birds, but maybe not.

We feed hummingbirds sugar water in a 4:1 ratio, which closely approximates the sugar content in flower nectar. That simple solution is safe for birds. Conscientious bird lovers don't add red dye to their feeder nectar, and keep their feeding stations clean and healthy for their patrons. Since jelly is not found in nature, and since its sugar content is often much higher than flower nectar—plus potential additives and such—I'd recommend just offering fruit to your birds. Orioles love halved oranges and I've seen them coming in to feeders to eat strawberries, too.

I don't mean to marsh your mellow, but I'm sure you want to do the right thing for your birds. Now, just because blueberry pie is not found out there in nature doesn't mean you shouldn't occasionally put one out for a passing friend. Happy bird feeding!



About Birdsquatch

Birdsquatch is WBB's tall, hairy, and slightly stinky columnist. He is a bigfoot who has watched birds all his life. His home range is unknown.

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