Peanuts are a feature of many favorite health foods for humans, especially energy bars and trail mixes. They offer us protein and healthy fats and can be a long-lasting source of energy. Besides, peanuts are tasty!
It’s not surprising that peanuts are favorite snack food for humans. But you might be wondering, are peanuts healthy for birds too?
Are peanuts safe for birds to eat? Are peanuts poisonous to birds?
Yes, birds can have peanuts. The Humane Society suggests feeding peanuts to adult birds in Autumn and Winter. Birds need extra calories in the colder seasons, and peanuts fill the bill with extra fat and protein.
Feeding loose peanuts in the Spring or Summer could present a choking hazard for chicks, so during those seasons, it’s best to offer whole peanuts in a mesh feeder instead.
Peanuts are not poisonous to birds. But they can have a fungus growing on them that contains a toxin called aflatoxin, which is fatal to birds. It’s important to buy your peanuts from a reputable source to guarantee that they do not have any aflatoxin.
Are there any health benefits? Any nutritional value?
We know that peanuts are generally a good source of protein and fats, making them valuable for birds, especially when they need a calorie boost in their diet.
An experiment discovered that one peanut can provide more than one-third of a Carolina Wren’s daily metabolic need–in other words, three peanuts could feed one hungry bird for an entire day! It’s also been shown that peanuts are an important part of winter nutrition for birds like Northern Cardinals and Tufted Titmice.
Is there a limit on how much they should consume?
You don’t have to worry about how many peanuts each individual wild bird is eating, which is impossible for you to manage anyway!
However, you do want to stay on top of the peanuts’ freshness because they can spoil quickly, especially in humid climates. Only put out as many peanuts as the birds will eat in 1-2 days. Check often for signs of mold, and clean feeders thoroughly between refills, allowing them to dry completely before you put any peanuts inside.
Are there certain species that should stay away from peanuts?
Most kinds of birds love peanuts. The smaller peanut-eating birds will appreciate ground or crushed peanuts, or peanut hearts, while larger birds will eat peanuts of any kind. A few bird species won’t eat them, but you don’t have to worry about the peanuts hurting them–they’ll just ignore them.
Do any birds enjoy peanuts?
Many types of birds love peanuts! Some species you’ll see flocking to your feeders for these morsels include Blue Jays, Steller’s Jays, Scrub Jays, chickadees, titmice, crows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, and grackles.
Do birds prefer shelled or unshelled peanuts?
Birds will eat peanuts in or out of the shell. Larger birds have no problem cracking open shelled peanuts. Smaller birds may prefer unshelled peanuts or peanut hearts, and the smallest birds will be pleased if you offer crushed or ground peanuts.
Can birds eat peanut shells? Are the shells toxic to birds?
Peanut shells are not harmful to birds, and they have no problem cracking them open to get at the nut inside.
The mistaken idea that the shells are toxic likely stems from one of two concerns: firstly, there may be concern about aflatoxin, which comes from a fungus that can grow on peanuts. Always buy your peanuts from a reputable supplier that guarantees the peanuts are free from detectable aflatoxin.
The second concern could be about excess salt on the peanut shells–always buy unsalted peanuts to feed to birds.
Do birds like salted or unsalted peanuts? Will salted peanuts harm birds?
Since large doses of salt can be fatal for songbirds, avoid feeding salted or dry roasted peanuts just to be safe. Dry roasting refers to roasting the peanuts in salt rather than oil.
Can birds eat raw peanuts?
Yes, raw peanuts are a perfectly safe treat for birds and the best way to offer them. This includes in-shell, whole, or parts of peanuts.
Can birds eat roasted peanuts? What about dry roasted peanuts?
Roasted peanuts are cooked in oil or dry roasted in salt. These ingredients are not suitable for birds to eat and should be avoided. Also, these kinds of peanuts may have other seasonings on them that aren’t safe for birds to eat. So stay safe, and don’t feed birds roasted or dry roasted peanuts.
Can birds eat honey-roasted peanuts?
Birds should not eat peanuts that have any kind of flavoring or coating on them. This includes salted, honey roasted, chocolate covered, or candy-coated peanuts. Also, don’t feed peanuts that are part of a trail mix meant for humans to eat; these usually have salt or seasonings added as well.
Can birds eat peanut butter?
Yes, birds can eat peanut butter, and they enjoy it, especially as an additional source of winter fuel. We break down all the details for you on feeding peanut butter to birds in our handy guide!
Does it matter if the peanut is Runner, Virginia, Spanish, or Valencia?
These are known as “cultivars” of peanuts, and they were developed to help peanut plants grow better or to create a better quality peanut. It doesn’t impact whether or not the birds can eat the peanuts.
Can birds eat peanuts whole? Do you need to crush it?
Many species of birds can eat whole peanuts just fine. The smallest species of birds will appreciate crushed or ground peanuts.
How do you feed birds shelled peanuts?
Shelled peanuts can be offered in a hopper feeder or on a platform feeder. Remember that peanuts need to be kept clean and dry and checked often for spoilage.
What about feeding peanuts to squirrels?
Feeding squirrels peanuts can be a good way to keep them occupied, so they don’t bother your birds at the feeders. If you offer the peanuts in a specialized feeder designed for the squirrels to access, they will most likely take the easier route to food and leave the birds alone.
As with the birds, only offer as much as the squirrels will eat in 1-2 days. Using squirrel-proof feeders for the birds can also encourage the squirrels to stick to the treats that are meant for them.
Can birds get salmonella from peanuts?
If the peanuts you bought for your bird feeder have been contaminated with salmonella, it can make birds sick just like it makes humans sick. If there is a recall on peanuts or peanut products, be sure to check whether it affects your bird feed too. If so, you’ll need to remove any affected peanuts and thoroughly clean your feeders.
Nutty for Peanuts
Birds can eat peanuts safely, whole or peanut pieces, shelled or unshelled. Just don’t offer roasted peanuts; these aren’t safe because they’re either roasted in oil or dry roasted in salt. Always keep peanuts fresh and feeders clean. Your backyard birds will be nuts about their new treat!