Can You Feed Birds Peanuts?



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Many people enjoy putting out bird feeders to attract various garden birds to their yards. However, before you start putting out peanuts for the birds in your area, it’s important to know how to do so safely and responsibly.

Yes, you can feed birds peanuts. They’re high in fat and are popular with many bird species, including tits, finches, and woodpeckers. However, make sure the peanuts are unsalted, as salt can be harmful to birds. It’s safest to use mesh peanut feeders, which prevent birds from taking large pieces that could cause choking, especially important when feeding fledglings.

Key Takeaways On Feeding Birds Peanuts

  • Birds that eat peanuts include finches, native sparrows, jays and woodpeckers.
  • Feed peanuts to birds in moderation.
  • You can prevent larger birds from accessing nut meats and in-shell nuts by using a special kind of bird seed feeder.

Things to consider:

  1. Raw vs Roasted: Both raw and roasted peanuts can be used, but never feed birds peanuts that have been roasted with oil or coated with salt or other flavorings, which can be harmful to them.
  2. Whole vs Chopped: Large whole peanuts can be a choking hazard for smaller birds. You can offer whole peanuts to larger birds such as jays and woodpeckers, but consider crushed or chopped peanuts for smaller birds.
  3. Shelled vs Unshelled: Both are fine, but if you choose to feed shelled peanuts, be prepared for the discarded shells to potentially create a mess under the feeder.
  4. Avoid Spoiled Peanuts: Peanuts can grow a mold that produces aflatoxin, a natural toxin that can be deadly to birds. Avoid feeding birds any peanuts that look moldy, discolored, or otherwise spoiled.
  5. Peanut Feeders: Special peanut feeders are available that are designed to hold whole peanuts. They often have a mesh design that allows birds to peck at the peanuts without removing them from the feeder.
  6. Attracting Unwanted Visitors: Peanuts can attract animals other than birds, such as squirrels, rats, and even bears in some locations. If this becomes a problem, you may need to look into squirrel-proof or bear-proof feeder options, or you may need to stop offering peanuts.

What birds love peanuts?

Raw peanuts are some of the favorite snacks of many backyard birds. So what birds eat peanuts?

Blue JaysThey are large songbirds known for their intelligence and tight family bonds.
WoodpeckersTheir strong beaks are perfect for drilling into peanut shells. Varieties include Downy and Hairy.
Tufted TitmouseA small songbird that is often found in the eastern half of North America.
NuthatchesKnown for their ability to climb down trees headfirst, they enjoy both peanut kernels and suet.
Northern CardinalsAlthough they primarily eat seeds and insects, they enjoy peanuts as a supplement.
ChickadeesThey’re small birds with a distinctive black cap and bib, they love peanuts both shelled and unshelled.
StarlingsWhile they are sometimes considered pests, starlings are fond of peanuts.
House SparrowsThese small birds aren’t picky eaters and will happily consume peanuts.
CrowsThese highly intelligent birds are omnivores and enjoy a wide range of foods, including peanuts.
GracklesSimilar to crows, grackles are flexible in their diet and will eat peanuts.
Scrub JaysCousins of the Blue Jay, these birds are native to the western part of North America and love peanuts.

Blue Jay

Lovely blue jays are some of the most common visitors in many backyards across North America. They have a distinctive blue crest on their head and a blue and white body. Considered intelligent birds, they can mimic other birds’ calls. Blue jays are omnivores and will eat various foods, including insects, fruits, nuts, and seeds.

Carolina Wren

Carolina Wrens are small, round birds with rust-colored backs and buff-colored bellies. They are common in the southeastern United States. They are known to eat peanuts, along with various other foods such as insects, fruits, and seeds. Carolina Wrens are known for their loud and distinctive songs, which they use to communicate.

American Goldfinch

American Goldfinches are small, bright yellow birds found throughout North America. They eat all kinds of seeds and fruits. They have a unique feeding habit of plucking seeds out of thistle plants and hanging them upside down to eat them.

Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Woodpeckers are a family of birds that are found all over the world. They are known for their distinctive beaks, which they use to peck holes in trees in search of insects. Some species of woodpeckers, such as the red-bellied woodpeckers, are known to eat peanuts and other nuts and seeds.


Sparrows are small, social birds that are found in many parts of the United States. They are known for their brown or gray plumage and their cheerful chirping. Sparrows are also adaptable and can thrive in urban as well as rural environments. They eat seeds and you can serve peanuts to them.

Are peanuts good for birds?

Yes, peanuts are good for birds. They are a high-energy food due to their high fat, protein, and calorie content. Many bird species, such as jays, woodpeckers, cardinals, and nuthatches, are particularly fond of peanuts. However, always ensure the peanuts are unsalted and unflavoured, as additives can be harmful to birds. Raw or roasted peanuts are both suitable, but roasted peanuts should be unsalted and not oil-roasted.

One of the most significant benefits of feeding peanuts to birds is that they are an excellent source of protein. Protein is an essential macronutrient that helps birds build and repair their muscles, feathers, and other tissues. It also plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy immune system and supporting the growth and development of young birds.

Peanuts are also rich in healthy fats, an important source of energy for birds. These fats provide the energy needed for flying, foraging, and other physical activities. They also help birds regulate their body temperature and maintain healthy skin and feathers.

Birds should only be eating a few peanuts from your peanut feeder at a time. Too many peanuts can lead to an imbalance in a bird’s diet and may even cause health problems such as obesity and malnutrition. As a general rule of thumb, only put out as many peanuts as a bird can eat in a one or two days.

Along with bird seed in the bird feeder, a few peanuts are a big hit, especially when provided through a special peanut feeder, which even wild birds can’t resist; hence, buying bulk peanuts can be a smart choice for bird enthusiasts.

Can birds eat peanut butter?

Yes, many species of birds can eat peanut butter as a tasty and nutritious treat. However, it is important to choose natural, unsalted peanut butter and avoid brands that contain added sugars or other ingredients that are harmful to birds. You can spread it on a tree bark or similar surface.

You should also offer peanut butter sparingly as a treat, rather than as a main part of their diet, to avoid overfeeding or causing digestive issues.

It’s best to offer peanut butter in a feeder or on a bird-safe platform to prevent it from getting stuck in their feathers.

Can birds eat dry roasted peanuts?

Dry roasted peanuts are not recommended for birds because they can be difficult for birds to digest due to their tough and hard texture. Roasted peanuts can also contain added salts and flavorings that are not healthy for birds.

If the peanuts are stale or moldy, they can be harmful to birds and cause digestive issues. Therefore, it’s best to offer raw, unsalted peanuts to birds, which are easier for them to digest and provide a healthy source of protein and fat.

Can birds eat salted peanuts?

Birds should not eat peanuts that have any kind of flavoring or coating on them because these additives can be harmful to their health.

Flavored or coated peanuts may contain high levels of salt, sugar, artificial sweeteners, or other ingredients that are not suitable for birds to consume. These additives can also disrupt the balance of a bird’s diet and cause health problems such as obesity, heart disease, and other digestive issues.

Can I feed birds unshelled peanuts?

If your grow peanut plants in your garden, then you can have something that your feathered friends may enjoy. But can you fill your peanut feeders with unshelled peanuts?

Yes, you can! While birds such as chickadees love shelled peanuts, not all seed-eating birds are able to crack open the shells of peanuts and eat the nuts inside, it’s best to offer them unshelled peanuts sparingly or not at all.

Can birds eat peanut chips?

Yes, they can but only in moderation. Peanut chips are better served in hopper feeders.

Can birds eat processed peanuts?

It’s not generally recommended to feed birds processed peanuts such as chips and other candy-coated peanuts. These are not bird food and don’t offer wholesome nutrition to birds. Fill your backyard feeders and offer peanuts without any flavorings and other ingredients.

Do I need to crush whole peanuts for birds?

Many birds enjoy peanuts in the shell and they absolutely love visiting yards and gardens with a bird feeder filled with crushed peanuts. While it’s not necessary to grind or crush peanuts, many bird species are able to crack open the shells of peanuts to access the nuts inside.

However, smaller birds prefer small peanut pieces. If you decide to offer whole peanuts, make sure they are unsalted and free of any additives that may be harmful to birds

When should you stop feeding peanuts to birds?

It’s recommended to stop feeding peanuts to birds during the breeding season, which generally occurs in the spring and summer months. During this time, birds require a diet that is high in protein and calcium to support the growth and development of their young.

While peanuts are a good source of protein for most birds, they are not a good source of calcium and may not provide the necessary nutrients for birds during the breeding season.

Can you use peanuts to attract birds?

Offering peanuts is one of the ways you can attract wild birds to your yard or garden.

Scatter peanut hearts, crushed or kibbled peanuts or whole peanut mixes in your tray feeder or put them in a peanut wreath feeder. You can exclude large birds and only allow small bird species and other peanut lovers to enjoy your nutritional treat by using specialized feeders.

Mix in-shell peanuts with other animal feed and edible seeds such as sunflower seeds. You can buy bulk peanuts for birds from our local pet stores but if they’re not available there, you can visit your local farm or grocery stores.

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