In Praise of Jelly

I remember the first time I heard about placing jelly out to attract Baltimore Orioles. Like most of you, I thought it sounded crazy. After using this nearly full-proof method for the past 10 years or so, I know that it is not only not crazy but one of the best things you can feed in spring and summer.

What is perhaps most surprising is the number of species that have been reported eating the jelly. While this list is probably not complete, here are birds that our customers have reported at their jelly feeders:

  • Baltimore Oriole
  • Orchard Oriole
  • Gray Catbird
  • Summer Tanager
  • Scarlet Tanager
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird
  • Red-breasted Nuthatch
  • Brown Thrasher
  • Northern Cardinal
  • American Robin
  • Tufted Titmouse
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Tennessee Warbler
  • House Finch
  • Northern Mockingbird


Feeding jelly doesn’t come without its perils. Ants love anything sweet but can easily be bested with a good Nectar Protector (ant moat). The true challenge comes from raccoons. Placing your feeder on a pole with a raccoon baffle works the best, but feeding from a tray attached to a window can be very successful too. If all else fails, you can take your feeder in each night. One clever customer told me she puts her oriole and hummingbird feeders in her gas grill every night then puts them back out in the morning. Great idea.

Is there a difference in jellies? There are some studies coming out that indicate that the high fructose corn syrup jellies are not as good for the birds as the ones that have natural sugar and higher fruit content. We have brought in the BirdBerry Jelly from Songbird Essentials™ as a healthier alternative and it is bottled here in Kansas City

by Mark McKellar

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