If you love to watch hummingbirds in your garden, you might wonder what to feed them to keep them coming around.
When feeding hummingbirds in your garden, the most important thing to do is ensure that you have plenty of natural nectar sources and small insects available since these make up the bulk of a hummingbird’s diet.
Hummingbird feeders are typically filled with a sugar-water solution. While it is best to restrict yourself to this type of offering, you can, if you wish, supply additional things. Grape jelly or other jellies for instance, can, with a few caveats, be provided as an occasional sweet treat, but do hummingbirds eat grape jelly? Let’s find out…
Are Hummingbirds Attracted to Jelly?
Hummingbirds do like to eat jelly. It’s basically bird candy. Like us, they are sugar-fiends who will love the boost a high-energy food like sweet fruit jelly or jam gives them.
Hummingbirds’ fast flight, frequent feeding, and fast metabolism mean they need a lot of energy – and natural sugars provide them with that energy.
Is Grape Jelly Good for Hummingbirds?
Just like us, hummingbirds love sugary treats. But that does not necessarily mean that these foods are good for them.
Homemade jellies for birds are made with sugar and fresh fruit and are popular as an energy source. Even bird-specific grape jelly is not as healthy for birds (or us) as natural nectar from flowers and the naturally-occurring fruit sugars found in berries and fruits. These occasionally provide an additional food source for hummingbirds in your garden.
If you are considering leaving grape jelly out for birds, you must understand what ingredients should go into the grape jelly you use. Never use regular grape jelly from the store, as it may contain ingredients harmful to your avian friends.
Honey, molasses, brown sugar, and artificial sweeteners are incredibly harmful and could even kill the birds you are trying to aid. Fruits on their own can be left out for birds, but they ferment quickly, so this can also do more harm than good.
Any grape jelly you use should consist of granulated sugar and fruit juice only, with no other ingredients.
Should You Feed Grape Jelly to Hummingbirds?
If you feed grape jelly to hummingbirds, only provide it as an occasional treat. If you plan to leave some out, it is best to do so when the birds need it most for a quick energy boost.
The critical times are during the spring and fall migrations. During the winter, the birds need the energy to keep warm if there are still hummingbirds around where you live.
Giving hummingbirds too much sugar can be detrimental. It is always far better to provide plenty of natural food sources for hummingbirds in your garden. Remember that they need to source insects for protein and nectar from flowers.
If you wish, adding hummingbird feeders filled with a sugar-water solution can also be beneficial to ensure hummingbirds acquire the energy they need. But remember, no artificial hummingbird foods can replace natural food sources, which are always the best option if you want to keep hummingbirds well-fed.
If you decide to put out some jelly for birds, it is also essential to make sure that it does not become a physical hazard for hummingbirds and other species.
Sticky jellies can cause hummingbirds to get stuck or impair their flight if it gets on their feathers. Like other sticky substances, it is vital to ensure that hummingbirds don’t accidentally get it all over themselves when they come in to feed.
Will Other Birds Eat Grape Jelly?
Just like hummingbirds, a wide variety of other bird species will be attracted to and love eating grape jelly that you leave out in your garden. Some additional birds that you can attract with grape jelly include:
Orioles are fruit-eating birds that love the sweet treat of grape jelly. They like a range of different fruit jellies, but Bullock’s and Baltimore orioles particularly love the grape juice flavor since fresh grapes are one of the fruits that they commonly consume.
Catbirds, like the Gray catbird, will also be attracted to grape jelly and love feeding on it in your garden. This is another common bird found in North America that will love grape jelly and appreciate its presence in your garden.
Tanagers such as the Scarlet tanager, Western tanager, Summer tanager, and Hepatic tanager also have a sweet tooth and love to feed on grape jelly in your garden.
These gray and rather nondescript but talkative songbirds are another species you can draw into your garden with a small amount of grape jelly. Though, of course, you should also ensure you provide berries through your planting schemes and attract the insects they also like to eat.
These migratory birds will mainly feed on insects, seeds, and fruit from the plants in your garden and the surrounding area. But especially during migration periods, they may also come to nectar feeders and will love the energy boost some grape jelly can provide.
Grape jellies are also a favorite treat of this American woodpecker – the smallest woodpecker species.
Hairy woodpeckers are also said to be huge fans of grape jellies.
This common species may stop by if you place some grape jelly in your garden. They also appreciate sweet jelly as a supplement to their natural diet.
Brown thrashers won’t eat seeds or suet, but they are partial to a bit of grape jelly.
Birds like the Yellow-rumped warbler and other warblers mostly eat insects, but they also eat berries and seeds and have been known to be partial to a drop of grape jelly when offered.
These are just some of the birds you might attract to a grape jelly bird feeder in your garden.
How Can You Feed Jelly to Hummingbirds and Other Birds?
People will often leave out small saucers of grape jelly or other jellies for the birds, which can attract a range of species to your garden.
But you should verify that the plates are not deep. Cover them with mesh so hummingbirds and other species can poke their bills through to feed without falling in or making a mess of their plumage.
A container of grape jelly left out for birds should be cleaned and refilled regularly to prevent spoiling or pests. But you should not top it up too frequently since, as mentioned above, jelly should only ever be given as an occasional treat, and not as the primary source of food for your feathered friends.
Remember, feeding these beautiful birds by planting to provide their natural food sources is always the best policy, so choosing the right plants and creating suitable habitats is always the most important thing to do. But once you have done this, you might also consider providing supplemental foods like grape jelly, as long as you do so safely.