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.

What do you think? Tell us!

comments powered by Disqus

New On This Site

The Latest Comments

  • I understand that the ducks' blood vessel arrangement in their feet is to provide the benefits of the counter-current heat exchanger mechanism; returning cold venous blood from the feet is warmed by the descending warm arterial blood, preventing excess heat loss by the feet and avoiding cold blood from chilling the body. This means that the feet are cold, not warm.
    by Frank Barch, Sat, 02 Jan 2021
  • I have the same situation. The feeder is attached to the middle of a large picture window that goes ceiling to floor w/ no ledge or sill for animals to climb or balance. Yet every morning all the sunflower seeds have been cracked open and hulls left. Any ideas what it is?
    by Liza Fox, Sun, 15 Nov 2020
  • I have a bird feeder that sticks to my window and I've been hearing noises against the window at night right now its going on. But whatever it is it is aware of me. And when I get to window it leaves.I can't imagine a squirrel or mouse or possom being able to get at it. ...So as I was reading this article im to assume no bird eats at night. Or no birds will eat at night. Why is that? Then im also thinking of a sinereo that could a lost confused bird eat at night. This eating thing is watching meI turn out the light go there noise dissappears..Thank you.
    by Nosferatu, Thu, 05 Nov 2020
  • I have metal baffles (cones) on my pole for my bird feeders. Something is still tempting them at night. What else could it be? Deer???
    by Ella Spencer Connolly, Thu, 27 Aug 2020
  • I found where he lives, then I keep him up all day by singing at full volume! Hah, that'll show the little sucker!
    by Pike Juan, Tue, 11 Aug 2020