On Feeding Grape Jelly

Shop the 4306 Eco-Jelly Oriole Feeder at duncraft.com.

When orioles return from the tropics in the springtime, offer grape jelly as a sweet treat to provide them with high-energy for building their nest and preparing for breeding season—jelly is essential when the insects and berries that make up the majority of the oriole’s diet aren’t available until later in the summer months

Orioles aren’t the only birds that eat grape jelly. So do finches and cardinals! When we shared the video, included at the bottom of this article, on our Facebook page, one of our fans asked if the jelly was good for the birds since sucrose is not in the bird’s natural diet. We appreciated the question and decided to share the answer on the Duncraft Wild Bird Blog, so more people have access to the information.

Yes, you can safely feed the birds grape jelly. When orioles arrive after their migration, they eat grape jelly in addition to what they usually eat in nature. Grape jelly is a favorite of many birds, although you can offer other flavors, too. Here are five guidelines proven helpful to keep in mind when feeding jelly:

  • Choose all natural “bird jelly” made for the birds and low in sugar, without any additives or preservatives—like BirdBerry Jelly.
  • Feed jelly in a relatively small dish. Only offer as much fruit as your birds can eat in a day.
  • Offer jelly as a high-energy snack during the first half of the day. Once the jelly is gone, wait to refill until the next day and encourage your birds to forage naturally.
  • Optional: Add crushed grapes to your grape jelly to provide additional nutrition.
  • If orioles are nesting nearby, offer mealworms instead of jelly to provide essential protein.

In Laura Erickson’s blog article called “Is feeding jelly really okay for birds?” we found one comment from Dr. Brad Bergstrom particularly helpful. “I have a winter-long flock of up to 2 dozen Baltimore Orioles here in southern Georgia (they arrive late August and stay till mid April). They started coming to the winter hummer feeders 20 years ago, but they clearly prefer jelly,” said Dr. Bergstrom. “They did not go for marmalade or strawberry or any of the no-sugar-added jellies; they only like grape jelly/jam. My attitude is that it’s generally available in the morning, and I don’t refill beyond noon. They go away and I presume find natural foods. There are stretches of days when they don’t even come for the jelly (maybe avoiding the frequent accipiters). I see them up in the pecan and oak trees feeding many times. They are vigorously healthy. If they nested here, I would switch to mealworms.” Laura Erickson even agreed with Dr. Bergstrom and replied, “You’re doing it exactly right.”

The next time you want to feed the birds jelly, keep in mind that “bird jelly” is different from the jelly we eat in our PB&J sandwiches. Before long, the orioles switch to an insect-based diet to provide their nestlings with essential protein for healthy development. Attract fruit-eating birds now and shop our popular BirdBerry Jelly at duncraft.com. Happy Birding!

Watch the video below. Orioles aren’t the only ones who love eating jelly!


“Is feeding jelly really okay for birds?” Laura Erickson’s For the Birds. Apr. 9, 2007. May 2, 2018. <http://blog.lauraerickson.com/2007/04/is-feeding-jelly-really-okay-for-birds.html>.

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