The Jelly Jar

When I discovered that we had Orchard Orioles on the property, I decided to makes their lives a bit more juicy by offering sliced oranges in several locations where I had seen them. We encountered the male in the now-overgrown former herding arena and the female was seen a few hundred feet away at the west entrance to Jaye’s pasture. I also put a couple orange halves where I hadn’t seen them, just to see if anything might snack on the citrus. The next day, I found that the slice at the gate to Jaye’s pasture had been picked upon. It made me happy to know that the local birds were able to get such a delicacy.

I also ordered an Oriole jelly jar holder and an Oriole nectar feeder, which isn’t much different from a Hummingbird feeder except the ports are a bit larger and the attracting color is orange. When they arrived, Robert and I went out to put up our new wild bird snack stations. We hung the jelly jar on a lovely, handmade feeder that one of our clients, Matt, created for us. Located on the edge of the former herding arena (and where I had recently seen the Great Crested Flycatcher), the feeder also contained a meal worm block and two suet slabs, one with cherries and the other with peanuts. Robert secured the nectar feeder to the top of a post, about eight feet from the feeder.

The following day, to my minor disappointment, it appeared as if the jelly had not been touched. However, while I was quietly observing the location, a hummingbird arrived for a drink of the nectar. I have come to realize that hummingbirds are all around our property – not just at the feeders we hang on the patio by the house. I have been visited by a hummer while out on the golf cart in nearly every corner of the property.

A few more days elapsed and there wasn’t any evidence that the jelly at Matt’s feeder had been discovered. So, I chose to move it to the location where the orange slice had been picked at; the gate to Jaye’s pasture. The next day I found that the entire jar was empty! Clearly, a few birds did not lick that thing clean to the bottom. We had a mystery to solve! But, first I went back to the house and fetched the “good” preserves (no-sugar added, only fruit deliciousness – for human enjoyment) and gave it up to the wildlife, only to discover it sucked dry again the following day.

This is an old fence post at the entrance to Jaye’s Pasture in the north central part of our farm. It’s been here since we purchased the property in 2001. The previous owner had cattle that he grazed in the meadow around the pond. The fencing kept them from entering the crop land which we put into pasture grasses when we arrived. As I look at it in this photo, the fence appears so ominous with the barbed wire and the old electric fence wire. Still, I don’t think that the wildlife perceive it that way. They maneuver around it like it’s just part of the environment, as it has been for decades.

A trail cam was in order for this job. Below are video clips of the various critters that visited that jelly jar, including birds that picked at the dregs left after a nighttime of ravenous creatures nearly emptied the contents before sunrise.

Here’s the Gray Catbird that I shot with my camera as we arrived to set up the trail cam. I had filmed him in that spot a few days earlier, but I was able to get closer to him on this day. For a fairly nondescript bird, I find him nonetheless quite handsome and interesting.

I suppose it shouldn’t have surprised me that the Catbird chose to check out the jelly jar since it was in the same location where I had filmed him, twice. But I was. This video segment shows him hopping about and even vocalizing.

Other avian visitors that we caught on tape were a few Ruby-throated hummingbirds. The first video is a female. It is followed by a quick visit by a male.

“The Cutest Visitor” award goes to these mice that were brave and entered the cavern of the jelly jar. This clip combines three 30 second segments that were tripped by the mice.

Late yesterday afternoon Robert headed off to the hardware store for some supplies and stopped in to Walmart to purchase a new jar of grape jelly. I chauffeured him to the jelly jar feeder and he filled it up (better his hands get all sticky than mine, I say.) Like a child on Christmas eve, I waited for the new day to dawn to see what surprises we might find. I had thought that perhaps a white-tailed deer was the culprit, but logic told me it was most probably a raccoon. Well, it was a raccoon, and a couple of other species, too!

Below is just 90 seconds of a raccoon that completely relished his access to the jelly jar. I am not including many more minutes of this guy and another, smaller chap that visited much later in the evening. But, I suspect most folks would have guessed that a raccoon was a significant contributor to the consumption of the jelly.

And, how could I forget the opossum? Clearly, they live all around us, and to think they wouldn’t seek something sugary was a complete oversight.

And, while my first guess was that a deer had licked that jelly jar clean, we didn’t catch such an event. However, we did capture a doe walking within striking distance of the motion detector in the trail cam. She isn’t easy to see. Look slight left of center. After a few seconds of standing still, she walks to the right and under the Ponderosa pine trees. Since we decided to offer our pastures to the wildlife that we enjoy so much, we have had several deer move into our zone. Robert has discovered several “bedding down” spots along the perimeter of our property, under the mature trees.

And, what of the jelly jar? First, let me say that yesterday, after we rode out to fill it and restart the trail cam, we visited Matt’s feeding station and found the Oriole nectar feeder smashed to the ground. Who knows which critter did that. But, with new insight in what transpires during the midnight hours, I suggested that we (I use the word we lightly – as I’m certain it will be a task accomplished by Robert) mount the jelly jar on a thin, metal pole with a hefty baffle to prevent unwanted diners to indulge. I also think we need to hang the nectar feeder from a similar trapeze. Don’t get me wrong. I like raccoon and opossums well enough. But, I don’t think my pocketbook is deep enough to support their sweet tooth.

I’d love to catch the Orioles indulging in feast we provided most specifically for them. Perhaps that will happen and I will be able to share that victory at a point in the future.

Enjoy a bit of time outdoors. It’s truly a revitalizing experience.

2 Comments on “The Jelly Jar

  1. Interesting post. Ah the opossum – we have them getting into everything here in Arkansas. They do love anything classified as food – especially dog food. Thanks for sharing this nice post.

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