What Birds Eat Peanuts? And Should They Eat Them?
One of the most popular foods to feed wild birds are peanuts. They provide birds with vital protein and essential fats that will attract many wild birds including nuthatches, jays, finches, woodpeckers and tits into your garden. Often sold as monkey nuts or ground nuts, peanuts are actually not nuts at all.
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Peanuts Are Not Nuts!
Peanuts are actually members of the legume family, along with beans, peas and lentils. They have been cultivated for many years as animal food, it was only in the 19th century that they became recognised as a nutritious food for humans. There are 26 grams of protein in 100 grams of peanuts with 45 grams of fats and oils, which makes them a very nutritious food for wild birds.
Which Birds Eat Peanuts?
Many wild birds will eat peanuts but the size will determine which birds will come to lunch in your garden. If you leave whole peanuts in their shells on your bird table, you will soon spot magpies, jays, crows and jackdaws. If you don’t have a bird table, you can tie them with a strong thread and hang them around the garden. As always be aware of potential predators like cats, never hang any bird feeders anywhere that cats could catch them.
If you have woodpeckers in your area and you want to encourage them into your garden, drill some holes into a log or a branch and push some whole peanuts into them. You will soon have woodpeckers and nuthatches feeding from them. Woodpeckers usually eat insects that are under the bark of trees, but peanuts are almost as nutritious and easier to catch.
Crushed Peanuts Attract Smaller Birds
If you would like to see smaller birds like robins and wrens, crush some peanuts and place them on the bird table. Or add them to your homemade fat balls to add extra nutritional value. There are also bird feeders with a fine mesh that are ideal for crushed peanuts. These should be hung in safe places around the garden, always remember cats and other predatory birds are often on the prowl.
Only Use Monkey Nuts
Never feed the birds salted , dry roasted or flavoured peanuts, only fresh, unprocessed peanuts. Birds are unable to deal with salt or unnatural flavours. Instead of feeding your feathered friends, you could be responsible for their demise.
A Word Of Warning
Never leave whole peanuts out during the breeding season, as they could choke young fledglings. Only use crushed peanuts during the breeding season. Also don’t place too many peanuts out at one time, as they can spoil quickly and grow a mould. This mould can cause serious illness in birds, including respiratory infections. There is also a particular mould that can form on peanuts called Aflatoxin, this poisonous mould is carcinogenic.
It can affect humans as well as birds, and it acts pretty quickly, even minute traces can prove fatal. Always purchase peanuts from a reputable bird food supplier, and store them in an air-tight container. Always replace the food in your bird feeders every day, and wash them thoroughly with a disinfectant cleaner regularly.
There is a school of thought that you should only feed birds roasted peanuts as raw peanuts can contain harmful trypsin inhibitors that can cause kidney damage to birds. The other side of this argument maintains that birds eat raw peanuts in the wild, the choice is yours. But if you do go down the roasted route remember to use unsalted, unflavoured roasted peanuts only.
Can You Feed Birds Peanut Butter?
Wild birds will eat peanut butter smeared on tree trunks, mixed into their fat balls or spread onto small pieces of fruit. Be sure it is additive free and also check for sugar and salt. Never use old, out of date peanut butter as it can cause diseases in birds. Birds will eat smooth or crunchy peanut butter, they’re not fussy.
Birds Are Not The Only Creatures That Eat Peanuts
Be sure your bird feeders are squirrel proof, as these little mammals are quite partial to a peanut treat too. If you enjoy the antics that squirrels get up to you can feed them too but remember to cater for the birds too. Other mammals are not so welcome, always clear any bird food that falls to the ground to discourage any rodent activity.
Frequently Asked Questions
It is possible you have put peanuts out during the breeding season, if birds try to feed whole nuts or pieces of nuts too large they could choke their young. Also check you are not feeding the birds salted peanuts.
Peanuts are not harmful to birds and are a great source of protein and fat for birds and make a nice treat during winter months.
As long as you keep them in an air-tight container, peanuts should last a long while. Once they have been placed in the bird feeders, they should be replaced every 2 days as they can mould quickly and the mould that forms on peanuts can be fatal to birds.
It is not good to give birds salted peanuts, salt in large quantities can be fatal to birds.