Grape jelly has a sweet, syrupy taste that always leaves us wanting more. But did you know that these jellies are a favorite of many of your backyard birdies as well?
While all birders are familiar with the craze of grape jellies among the orioles, many other species are also drawn to these sweet treats.
Here are the common backyard birds that enjoy eating grape jelly:
- Baltimore Oriole
- Gray Catbird
- Rose-breasted Grosbeak
- Yellow-rumped Warbler
- Downy Woodpecker
- Brown Thrasher
- Scarlet Tanager
- House Finch
- Northern Mockingbird
- Hairy Woodpecker
Most North American birds attracted to grape jelly are primarily frugivores and range between small to medium in size.
In this article, we will learn more about the identification of all the grape jelly-eating birds. Later, we will explore some effective tricks and tips to attract them to your yard using it.
Baltimore Oriole (Icterus Galbula)
Lifespan: about 11 years in the wild
Body length: 17-22 centimeters (6.5-8.7 inches)
Wingspan: 23-34 centimeters (9-12 inches)
Weight: 25-42 grams
Declared as the state bird of Maryland, the Baltimore Orioles are a migratory passerine species from the New World Blackbird family.
The attractive, orange and black coloration of their plumage resembles the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore, after whom these birds have been named.
Baltimore Orioles display strong sexual dimorphism, with the males having a bright, orangish-yellow chest, belly, and rump.
Their head and face are covered in a jet-black hood that extends to their back. Their wings and tail are covered in black as well, with occasional patches of orange and white.
The female Baltimore Orioles have a pale brownish yellow body with grey wings and tail. The underparts of their body are pale white with a touch of yellow on the breast.
Gray Catbird (Dumetella Carolinensis)
Lifespan: about 2-3 years in the wild
Body length: 20-25 centimeters (8-9.5 inches)
Wingspan: 22-30 centimeters (8.5-12 inches)
Weight: 34-40 grams
Closely related to the tremblers and thrashers, the Gray Catbirds are a species of medium-sized mimids found throughout Central and North America.
Just as their name suggests, these birds have an overall gray body with darker patches on their wings, tails, and head.
The color of their eyes, feet, legs, and bill is also blackish. The adults display negligible sexual dimorphism and look almost identical.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheucticus Ludovicianus)
Lifespan: about 7 years in the wild
Body length: 18-24 centimeters (7-9 inches)
Wingspan: 28-34 centimeters (11-13 inches)
Weight: 38-65 grams
Named after the bright, rosy patch spread on their chest, the Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are a large, migratory grosbeak species that breed in the eastern parts of North America.
These birds have a small yet stout body and possess dark eyes, feet, and legs; their bill is dusky in color. The adults are strongly dimorphic in their plumage.
The males Rose-breasted Grosbeaks have a black head and back, spreading the color on their wings and tail. In contrast, their underparts are entirely white except for the characteristic V-shaped red patch.
On the other hand, the females possess a dull brown body with heavily streaked white underparts.
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga Coronata)
Lifespan: about 5-6 years in the wild
Body length: 12-17 centimeters (4.5-7 inches)
Wingspan: 18-24 centimeters (7.5-9.5 inches)
Weight: 9-18 grams
Yellow-rumped Warblers are a common warbler species that are found everywhere in North America.
These birds are sexually dimorphic, with the adult males possessing a grey head and back covered with dark streaks. They have the characteristic yellow patches on their chest, flanks, and rump.
On the other hand, the females have brownish upper parts with a yellow patch on their lower back. Their underparts are mostly white and contain faint streaks.
Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates Pubescens)
Lifespan: about 1-2 years in the wild
Body length: 13-18 centimeters (5-7 inches)
Wingspan: 23-30 centimeters (9.5-12 inches)
Weight: 22-35 grams
Downy Woodpeckers are the smallest woodpecker species that breed in North America. These birds have a white face and underbody, with three black streaks on their head. Their upper parts are mainly black, with white spots on their wings.
The adult male Downy Woodpeckers can be distinguished from their female counterparts by the red patch on their head. On the other hand, juvenile males have a more prominent red cap.
Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma Rufum)
Lifespan: about 2-3 years in the wild
Body length: 22-30 centimeters (9-12 inches)
Wingspan: 29-34 centimeters (11-13 inches)
Weight: 65-69 grams
Belonging to the same family as the Gray Catbirds, the Brown Thrashers are a large thrasher species found throughout the central and eastern regions of the United States.
These birds are colored in brown and white, except for their bright yellow eyes. While their upper parts are reddish-brown, the underparts are white with heavy brown streaking. Their wings and tails are brown as well, with white edges.
Brown Thrashers are not sexually dimorphic, with both sexes appearing identical.
Scarlet Tanager (Piranga Olivacea)
Lifespan: about 9-11 years in the wild
Body length: 14-19 centimeters (6-7.5 inches)
Wingspan: 22-32 centimeters (9-12 inches)
Weight: 24-40 grams
Scarlet Tanagers are a species of medium-sized passerines belonging to the cardinal family. These migratory songbirds have a stout, dusky bill and black eyes.
The adults of this species are strongly sexually dimorphic in their plumage. The males have a bright orange head and body, with their wings and tail colored in pitch black.
On the other hand, their female counterparts have a dull, olive-colored bodies. Their undersides are paler than their upper parts, with a greyish touch to their dark olive wings and tail.
House Finch (Haemorhous Mexicanus)
Lifespan: about 10-11 years in the wild
Body length: 12-15 centimeters (5-6 inches)
Wingspan: 22-26 centimeters (8-10 inches)
Weight: 15-28 grams
Endemic to the western regions of North America, the House Finches are a moderate-sized finch species known for their cheery warble.
Both sexes of these birds have dull brown bodies with underparts streaked with brown. However, the males can be distinguished from their female counterparts by the rosy tint spreading across their head, neck, shoulders, and chest.
The shade of this coloration can vary according to the changing seasons, usually darkest during winters due to their diet of berries and fruits.
Northern Mockingbird (Mimus Polyglottos)
Lifespan: about 7-8 years in the wild
Body length: 19-28 centimeters (8-11 inches)
Wingspan: 30-38 centimeters (12-15 inches)
Weight: 42-60 grams
Popular for their mimicking skills, the Northern Mockingbirds are also referred to as “Many-tongued Thrush,” which is the meaning of their scientific name.
Although these birds have medium-sized bodies, their legs and tails are quite long. They are mainly grey in color, with darker upper parts and paler underparts. On their wings and tail, you can see edges of black and white.
Their eyes are generally greenish-yellow, with occasional touches of gold or orange. The adult Northern Mockingbirds do not display sexual dimorphism and have identical plumage.
Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus Villosus)
Lifespan: about 4-11 years in the wild
Body length: 18-26 centimeters (7-10 inches)
Wingspan: 33-43 (13-17 inches)
Weight: 42-95 grams
The Hairy Woodpeckers are medium-sized woodpecker species that have a widespread population throughout North America.
These woodpeckers are more or less a larger version of the Downy Woodpeckers, with a similar black and white body. The voices of each species serve as a perfect differentiation tool.
The underparts of these birds are mostly white, with black streaks on their face and black wings with white spots on them. Both sexes appear similar, except for a single for 2 to 3 red patches on the males’ heads, which is absent in the females.
Feeding grape jelly to your backyard birds
So far, we’ve learned about all the grape jelly-loving birds that are likely to come to our backyard. In this section, we will discuss how to use grape jelly most effectively to lure them in.
Picking out a suitable feeder
The first step towards feeding grape jelly to birds is selecting the right feeder for it. Without a suitable feeder, the jelly could be spoiled or fall on the ground before your birdies get a chance to get to it.
But how would you figure out which feeders are suitable for serving birds grape jelly? Your best alternative is to go for oriole feeders.
Because orioles are most popular for eating grape jelly, most of the oriole-specific feeders come with little, jar-like glass dishes attached to them. You can put out your jelly in these dishes safely for the birds to enjoy it.
Purchasing the right jelly
Before you go out and pick any random grape jelly for the birds of your yard, you must do a little research.
After all, the whole point of feeding them is to provide the nutrition to ensure their good health and long life, right?
Therefore, while purchasing grape jellies, you must go for those with no added sugar; if not, a low-sugar content jelly can also work.
Protecting the jelly from the sun
When you put grape jelly in your bird feeder, the right placement of the feeder is essential. You must ensure that it is hung in a sheltered place, away from the direct sunlight.
It is because exposure to heat and light can degrade the quality of grape jelly and reduce its shelf-life.
If left exposed to the sun for longer, grape jelly’s appearance, taste, and consistency can also change. And the chances of your backyard birdies eating the degraded jelly are extremely low.
Keeping the jelly feeder clean
It is no surprise that the jelly feeders need more frequent cleaning than the seed feeders. It is because due to the presence of sugar in it, the grape jelly has a sticky texture.
If you don’t clean the dish once the jelly is finished, the sweet stickiness left behind will attract various unwanted pests such as bees and ants.
And while it might not seem so troublesome in the short term, over time, it could lead to pest infestation in your house and property.
Guarding the jelly against ants and bees
As you already know, ants and bees will also be drawn to the jelly dish when it is full. In fact, a filled jelly feeder is more likely to attract them than an empty one.
If you want to prevent such a thing from happening to your jelly, opt for a bee-guard oriole bird feeder that keeps the jelly safe from bees and other pests.
Adding more nutrients to the jelly
While the grape jelly is a great food source for backyard birds, it is not the most nutritious thing you can offer them.
After all, any store-bought jelly is bound to have additives in it, which degrades its nutritional value.
What if we told you there’s a way to make grape jelly healthier for the birdies? Adding crushed or chopped grapes to the jelly will enrich its nutritional value and make it a healthy and tasty treat for the birds.
Too much jelly might not be a good idea
Because jelly is rich in sugar, the simplest form of glucose, many backyard birds prefer it over other foods.
However, it doesn’t change the fact that jelly contains no other nutrients and is not a healthy option for the birds if fed too often.
Offering grape jelly to the birds during (or right after) the nesting season is even worse since they will feed it to their younger ones.
At the initial stage of their life, fledglings need more protein-rich food than sugar for healthy growth. At this point, too much sugar can interrupt their development and be detrimental to their health.
It would help the birds if you could switch their food from jelly to worms or other protein-rich bird foods during these months.
Lastly, it is always better to plant grapevines in your yard. These vines will not only attract more birds to your yard but will be healthier for both your birds and you.
In this article, we have included a list of all the common backyard birds that are fond of grape jellies. We learned about their identification and later discussed how to best use grape jelly to attract them into your yard.
The next time you fill your feeder with grape jelly, you will have a good idea of which birds would be most likely to come.