Can Birds Eat Peanut Butter: Myth vs. Fact

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Once you start feeding birds, it’s easy to get excited. Suddenly, everything looks like a potentially tasty treat for your new feathered friends. Which foods from the kitchen could be added to your feeders for the birds to enjoy?

Since many birds enjoy nuts and seeds, you might wonder: can birds eat peanut butter too? For that matter, what about products that contain peanut butter, like sandwich crackers or cookies? 

Don’t raid your pantry to fill the bird feeder just yet. Let’s break down the facts about birds and peanut butter. 

Can Birds Eat Peanut Butter?

Birds can eat peanut butter. It’s a good source of healthy fats for them, especially in the wintertime when they need to make their calories count.

Peanut butter is a spread made from ground, roasted peanuts. In the United States, the spread must contain at least 90% peanuts to be sold as peanut butter; the rest can be salt, sweetener, and other additives. Use organic peanut butter to avoid any unnecessary chemicals.

Species of birds that especially enjoy a nutty treat include wrens, woodpeckers, blue jays, and nuthatches

Will Peanut Butter Hurt Birds?

Peanut butter in and of itself will not hurt birds. However, there can be negative consequences to feeding peanut butter to birds. 

The primary way peanut butter can hurt birds is by going bad. Peanut butter is a good breeding ground for bacteria and mold; warm temperatures will make them grow even faster.

When offering peanut butter to birds, it’s critical to check often for spoilage, throw away any spoiled peanut butter, and clean feeders with hot, soapy water.

Is it Nutritionally Good for Them?

Peanut butter can provide birds with protein and healthy fats and is a calorie-dense source of nutrition that’s especially welcome during the winter. There is no evidence that particular salts or sweeteners in peanut butter are harmful to birds.

Are There Any Dangers to Feeding Birds Peanut Butter?

Yes, there are some risks to feeding birds peanut butter as a delicious treat. It’s important to take precautions to ensure that you are offering peanut butter safely.

Peanut butter is best as an autumn and winter food. During the summer, hot temperatures and direct sunlight can make peanut butter spoil rapidly, making it unsafe for birds to eat.

Cleanliness is always crucial for any bird feeder, but if you’re going to offer peanut butter, check frequently for signs of spoilage and mold, and discard any questionable peanut butter immediately. 

Occasionally, salmonella outbreaks affect peanut butter production. These outbreaks can make humans and wild birds sick. So, if there is a recall, you should remove any affected peanut butter from your feeders and clean them thoroughly.

Can Peanut Butter Hurt Birds’ Feathers?

Peanut butter can separate into solids and oils and get onto a bird’s feathers. From there, the sticky peanut butter can transfer to eggs in the nest, clogging their pores. 

For this reason, you should avoid commercial peanut butter brands that can become too soft or oily. It’s also best to save peanut butter for the cooler seasons when most birds aren’t nesting, and the peanut butter is less likely to melt or separate.

Can Birds Choke on Peanut Butter?

There is a popular myth that birds will choke on peanut butter, but no documented evidence supports this. Birds have smaller mouths than we do, and their tongues aren’t as muscular, so peanut butter might be a bit of a hassle. But there’s no evidence of birds choking on peanut butter.

Common advice suggests mixing cornmeal with peanut butter if you are worried about birds choking on it. If you follow this advice, be aware that corn and peanuts can cause bacteria and mold to proliferate. Keep those feeders extra clean!

Can Birds Eat Peanut Butter Crackers?

You should not feed birds peanut butter crackers or any other kind of crackers. Crackers, like other highly processed foods, can have additives and flavorings that make them unsafe for birds. Plus, as the Audubon Society tells us, crackers don’t offer the birds much nutritionally–just a lot of empty calories. That space in a tiny bird’s belly is better used for food that has more to offer. 

Can Birds Eat Peanut Butter Cookies?

Can Birds Eat Peanut Butter

Birds should not be fed peanut butter cookies or any other cookie. Cookies have tons of sugar, plus vegetable oil and other ingredients no bird needs to be eating. 

Some people will set out snack foods like crackers or cookies for the birds, and when the birds try to eat these foods, they think that means it’s okay. But consider this: a young child may want to eat candy and cake all day; it doesn’t mean they should eat those things!

Can Birds Eat Crunchy Peanut Butter?

Yes, birds can eat crunchy peanut butter blends. They will enjoy the chunks of unsalted peanuts as an additional source of nutrition. You can learn more about birds eating peanuts in our handy guide

How Do You Serve Peanut Butter to Birds?

Squirrel-proof suet feeders, simple cage feeders, and log feeders with a perch added are all great options for serving peanut butter. 

You can also serve peanut butter in a dried orange half or smear a pine cone with peanut butter, roll it in birdseed, and hang it for birds to enjoy.

When offering peanut butter in a bird feeder, it’s important to check frequently for spoilage and keep the feeders clean. Leftover bits of peanut butter can cause mold to grow. 

Wash feeders thoroughly at least once per week in hot, soapy water.

How Do You Feed Peanut Butter to Birds in the Winter?

Winter is the best time to serve peanut butter to birds because when it’s cold out, the peanut butter is slower to separate or spoil.

Cage-style suet bird feeders are great for feeding peanut butter. Cleanliness is important. Clean any feeders at least once a week in hot, soapy water.

If you’re interested in a little more DIY, the Audubon Society has instructions on making a suet and peanut butter wreath that’s nice enough to gift to the birds or a bird-loving friend. 

Nutty For Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a calorie-dense, nutritious food that can make a big difference for hungry birds during the colder parts of the year. Feed peanut butter safely by maintaining clean feeders and staying aware of the peanut butter’s freshness. 

Avoid junk foods containing peanut butter, which aren’t any healthier for the birds than they are for you. Have fun watching the birds enjoy their peanut butter!

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Stevie Miller

Stevie Miller is a freelance writer with over a decade of experience. Her lifelong passion for birds began young, starting with a citizen science project at her aunt’s bird feeders, followed by a memorable first-time birdwatching trip to Assateague Island. Later, she got the opportunity to help birds directly while working as a veterinary assistant. Now she enjoys frequent time outdoors, traveling extensively to observe the birds, animals, and plants that inspire her writing and artwork.