Pistachios are incredibly healthy for people to eat in moderation as a snack. But if you love to feed the birds in your garden, you might be wondering whether pistachios are a good food source for them too.
Do birds eat pistachios? Are they good for them? If so, how should we go about feeding these to our feathered friends? Read on to find the answers to these questions.
Do Birds Eat Pistachios?
Yes, like us, many birds will love to eat pistachios and you may well find that they are a popular food source when you leave them out in your garden.
Pistachios are the seed of a tree, Pistacia vera. This tree is a member of the cashew family and, as with cashews, humans and a range of other creatures will enjoy eating the seeds.
The pistachio tree is not native to the US. It is native to regions of Central Asia, including present-day Afghanistan and Iran. However, today, Turkey and the US are the biggest producers of Pistachios.
Though they are not a native plant and therefore not a natural food source for wild birds in the United States, like many other nuts that will be consumed, when offered, by a wide range of different species.
Which Birds Eat Pistachios?
Cardinals, Chickadees, Grosbeaks, Jays, Junco, Nuthatches, Titmice, and Woodpeckers are among those species that enjoy nuts and seeds—pistachios included. Most seed and nut-eating birds will appreciate a taste of pistachios when these are left out in a garden.
Some birds will be able to break up the shelled raw pistachios themselves. But crushing the nuts will make them a viable food source for a wide range of seed and nut-eating birds.
Are Pistachios Good For Birds?
Pistachios are, as mentioned above, eaten by a range of different birds. But are they considered to be a healthy food source?
Yes, like other ‘nuts,’ pistachios can be a great supplement to a wild bird’s diet.
Raw pistachios are 4% water, 45% fat, 28% carbohydrates, and 20% protein.
They are very healthy as part of a balanced diet, for birds as well as for us. They have protein, dietary fiber, several dietary minerals, and B vitamins, to help keep birds healthy when eaten in moderation.
Pistachios and other high-energy nuts and seeds can be especially beneficial during the winter months when birds need fats and calories to maintain their health.
However, it is important to remember that we talk about feeding pistachios to birds, we are talking only about raw, unshelled, unadulterated pistachios.
It is also important to remember that, like any other supplemental food for birds, you should make sure that you feed any one thing only in moderation. Too much of anything, even a healthy option, can be detrimental. Your goal should be to help wild birds get as balanced and varied a diet as possible.
Can Birds Eat The Shells of Pistachios?
No, the shells cannot be consumed. Since most birds will not be able to remove the shells from pistachios, you should shell them before you place them in your garden.
It is best to feed only the fresh, raw pistachio kernels. (And as mentioned above, to feed as many different birds as possible it is best to crush them too).
Can Birds Eat Salted Pistachios?
Salted pistachios and other foods containing salt should not be fed to the birds in your garden. Even in small quantities, salt can pose a health risk to the birds that you want to aid.
Can Birds Eat Roasted Pistachios?
Roasted pistachios would be fine if they were just roasted and not treated in any other way. But roasted pistachios almost invariably contain salt, when prepared for human consumption. So these will not be suitable for the birds.
Can Birds Eat Pistachio Butter?
If pistachio butter (or any other recipe containing pistachios, for that matter) is made with raw, fresh pistachios alone then this might also be used within a mix made for feeding the birds. But it is important to make sure that the mix does not contain salt, sugar, or other ingredients that might not be ideal for your backyard birds.
How to Provide Pistachios for Birds
When providing any food for birds in your garden, it is best to begin by thinking about providing a natural diet through the planting of native species.
There are plenty of native seeds and nuts that you might grow, wherever you live, and these will always be the best and most eco-friendly choices when trying to aid the birds with whom you share your space.
Once you have filled your garden with plants to help birds and other wildlife (and perhaps also to meet many of your own needs), you might also consider growing some non-native trees, shrubs, and other plants that provide food for yourself, and plenty to share with the creatures that share your garden.
Only when you have considered these things should you consider what else you might buy to feed yourself and the birds in your garden.
And even when you are purchasing food for yourself or the birds, if you want to live in a sustainable and eco-friendly way as possible (another way to help wildlife in your area, and globally), you should try to source options as close to home as possible.
Planting Pistachios for Birds
US-grown pistachio cultivation mostly takes place in California, where the hot, dry conditions are ideally suited to the cultivation of this tree.
The trees thrive in a hot Mediterranean or desert climate, but where the summer is sufficiently long and warm, not too humid, and the soils free-draining, pistachio trees can be grown in USDA zones 7-10.
It is most likely that you will be able to grow pistachios in your garden if you live in California or the southwest of the US. Though these trees can also sometimes to cultivated in other regions, depending on the specific environmental conditions to be found there.
If you can grow pistachios where you live, this could be something to consider. You could grow plenty of pistachios for you, with lots left to share with backyard birds.
If, however, you do not live in an area where pistachios are grown nearby, it would be best to feed birds using nuts, seeds, and other things that can be grown in your garden, or your local area.
Serving Pistachios to Birds at a Bird Table or Bird Feeder
If you do serve pistachios to garden birds, you might simply spread some crushed nuts on a bird table, or add them to a bird feeder alongside other nuts and seeds to give birds an additional energy boost.
If you can grow pistachios or source them locally, they could be a great addition to the diets of the birds in your garden.
Plain pistachios can go as a treat on a bird feeding tray or at another bird feeding station and spreading them out on a level surface makes them most accessible to common garden birds.
Just remember that if pistachios come from far away, buying them could do more harm than good. It would be better to consider locally grown options instead.
And even when they are grown close by, the most ethical and eco-friendly choice is to choose only sustainably-grown, organic options.