Apr 22, 2020 | Featured in: Watching Backyard Birds, April 2019

Ask Birdsquatch: Is Grape Jelly Harmful 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.

Dear Birdsquatch:

My daughter is trying to convince me that grape jelly is bad for orioles. They love it, and I've had 11 Baltimore orioles and 2 orchard orioles at one time in my yard—thanks to grape jelly. Is it really so bad? Should I switch to fresh fruit instead? I'd prefer to stick with what works.

—Carolyn C.,
Ann Arbor, Michigan

Dear Carolyn,

Will grape jelly kill orioles? Will junk food kill humans? No and no. But orioles tend to pig out on grape jelly the way kids—unchecked—pig out on Halloween candy. One bonus to being a sasquatch at Halloween is you're already in costume. As a young squatch, I remember intending to eat my entire trick-or-treat bag at one sitting until Mama Squatch (may she rest in peace) put a kibosh on that idea, doling out only a few pieces a day. It didn't seem fair, but at least the candy lasted longer. It's the same for orioles and jelly: A little bit per day is fine. Unlimited access to sugar is not a part of any bird's natural diet. Jelly contains much more sugar than fresh fruit does. Offer orioles orange slices and purple grape halves, and they will enjoy them almost as much as grape jelly. Go ahead and offer a few tablespoons of all-natural grape jelly every morning, but give them less-sugary, more nutritious food as well: fresh fruit. Grape jelly with no additives is more expensive, but why risk harming the birds with preservatives and artificial ingredients?

If orioles are already in the habit of stopping by your yard on their northward journey, they'll return soon, happy to have a supply of naturally nourishing and energizing foods, as well as a small serving of a purple dessert. Who doesn't like purple desserts?

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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