Feeding Peanuts To Birds
Peanuts are one of the most popular foods to feed wild birds. They are packed with protein and fat and will attract tits, finches, jays, nuthatches and woodpeckers to your garden.
Peanuts are not actually nuts – they are legumes and a member of the bean family and are sometimes known as monkey nuts or ground nuts. You should always ensure you buy peanuts from a reputable bird food supplier as they can contain a natural toxin that can be harmful to birds.
Do not feed birds salted, flavoured or roasted nuts, as birds are unable to process high levels of salt and may become very sick or even die.
During breeding season do not leave out whole peanuts as parents may feed them to their young chicks who could choke on them. Either avoid putting out peanuts altogether or crush them up into smaller pieces.
Smaller birds such as wrens and robins will enjoy eating crushed peanuts all year round while larger birds will eat whole peanuts even if they are left in their shell. You can also add crushed peanuts to a suet fat cake to provide a nutritional treat for birds during the cold winter months.
You can buy specially designed peanut bird feeders which are usually made of wire mesh so birds have to peck at the nuts and only take small pieces. Peanut feeders are often squirrel proof too as peanuts are one of squirrels’ favourite foods and they will often take the entire supply you leave out for your garden birds given the chance.
If squirrels don’t visit your garden then try stringing some peanuts left in their shells and hang from a tree or your bird table. Or try pushing some peanuts into holes drilled into a log or branch to attract woodpeckers and nuthatches.
Only feed small quantities of peanuts at a time as if left for longer periods they can spoil and go mouldy which can cause respiratory infections in birds. As with all bird food make sure you clean up any mess under your bird feeders so you don’t attract rats and other vermin. And ensure you store your peanuts somewhere cool and dry.
You can also put out peanut butter for your garden birds as an alternative way of feeding peanuts. Make sure it does not have any additives such as salt or sugar and do not use up old peanut butter that may have gone rancid. You can also buy peanut butter that has been specially formulated for wild birds.
Both smooth and crunchy peanut butter can be fed to the birds in your garden. Try smearing some on a tree trunk, mix into suet cakes or spreading on slices of fruit, pine cones or pieces of toast to make some hanging bird feeders.
Peanuts are one of the most versatile foods you can give to your garden birds and however you choose to serve them up you will soon be rewarded by plenty of species visiting your garden.