If you want to see different species of birds in your backyard every day, try feeding them quality foods like peanuts. The ultimate favorite of most backyard birds, peanuts are packed with protein and fat and are a great source of energy.
Almost all backyard birds eat peanuts, and only a few dislike them. You can serve birds with whole peanuts in shells, cracked and unshelled peanuts for smaller birds, and unsweetened and unsalted nuts. Aside from peanuts, backyard birds also love to eat fruits, veggies, plants, insects, and worms in any season.
In this article, we’ll highlight the reasons why most birds are attracted to peanuts, the common types of backyard birds that eat peanuts, the best time to feed them, the proper approaches to serve birds, and the types of peanuts that satisfy birds along with the ones that can harm them.
Why Do Backyard Birds Love to Eat Peanuts?
Backyard birds need sufficient fat and calories to sustain their body temperature, especially when the winter season comes or on cold nights. Despite there being countless foods that provide a pack of energy like nyjer seed, suet, and carbohydrate-rich foods like cracked corn, peanuts are better for birds.
Peanuts are appealing to backyard birds because of their nutritional value. They are packed with protein that helps the birds grow and fat that provides energy. Peanuts also contain iron, potassium, fiber, and other nutrients.
Peanuts are easy to offer, widely available, and affordable. Just make sure they are unsweetened and unsalted.
Peanuts are legumes and not nuts. They are like peas, soybeans, and lentils. They have been grown for thousands of years, but before the 19th century, they were only used as animal feed.
Right now, peanuts are being grown for birds all over the world. China, USA, India, Nigeria, and Indonesia are the world’s major producers. Today’s peanuts come in different colors, sizes, and shapes.
Peanuts Nutritional Value:
Based on a nutrient database that the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) has made, 100 g of peanuts contains 567 calories (source) and the following quantities of other nutrients :
- Protein: 25.80 g
- Fat: 49.24 g
- Carbohydrate: 16.13 g
- Fiber: 8.50 g
- Sugar: 4.72 g
There are also plenty of minerals in 100 g of peanuts, including the following:
- Calcium: 92 milligrams (mg)
- Iron: 4.58 mg
- Magnesium: 168 mg
- Phosphorous: 376 mg
- Potassium: 705 mg
Birds are colorful, magnificent, and lively animals often found in streets, sidewalks, and backyards. They come in different colors, species, and characteristics. If you want to, there are ways to attract birds into your backyard. Here are 11 ways to attract birds to your backyard.
15 Types of Backyard Birds That Eat Peanuts
Peanuts are the favorite food for many birds, and they’re an easy choice when it comes to refilling your backyard feeders. Some birds dislike eating peanuts, such as hummingbirds and small finches. Nevertheless, there are countless species of birds that crave peanuts.
Unshelled peanuts are easier for backyard birds to eat, especially smaller birds, since they don’t have to spend their energy removing nuts from the shells. Northern Cardinals, black-capped Chickadees, and White-breasted Nuthatches are commonly seen eating unshelled peanuts.
The most common types of birds you will find eating peanuts in your backyard include Chickadees, Crows, Dark-eyed Juncos, Doves, Grackles, Jays, Northern cardinals, Nuthatches, Pyrrhuloxia, Ravens, Woodpeckers, Titmice, Towhees, Tits, and Wrens.
Here are the distinctions and similarities in the appearances of backyard birds.
Nuthatches have grayish blue on the back, a white face, and lower parts. Their gray cap and neck seem like these birds are wearing hoods. And their belly and below the tail are usually reddish-brown.
Nuthatches are known for their big heads, short tails, and strong beaks and feet. They present their territory by singing loudly.
Peanuts and sunflower seeds attract Nuthatches because they are nutritious and high in energy.
Jays have various species such as Mexican Jay, Florida scrub-jay, Green jay, Turquoise Jay, Black-throated magpie jay, Canada jay, and Brown jay. They are medium-sized, colorful and noisy.
The development links of jays and the magpies are complex. The Eurasian magpie are alike to the Eurasian Jay compared to the East Asian blue and Green magpies, yet the Blue jay is far different from them.
Blue Jays are attracted to shelled peanuts. It’s fun to watch Jays pick out peanuts when fed in an open trial. Jays can also keep one peanut in their stretchable throat pouch and get another peanut to store for later.
Chickadees seem to have a black cap and bib and white cheeks, with gray back, wings, and tail, and pale underside with peculiar buffy sides. They are one of the fastest birds and enjoy sunflowers, suet, and especially peanuts. Planting willow and birch trees is the favorite nesting place for chickadees.
Almost all woodpeckers have black-feathered bodies with white marks and a red crest on the top of their heads. Particular species like Magellanic and the Red-headed woodpeckers have red heads.
Woodpeckers have more than 250 species. The downy woodpecker is the most common backyard woodpecker in North America, and it’s one of two dozen woodpecker varieties that can be found in the US.
Red-bellied Woodpeckers also like shelled peanuts, but they usually stay at the feeder to open the shell and fly away with the nuts.
Crows are blackbirds that are known for their brainpower, their adaptability, and their noisy “caw.” The genus Corvus includes crows, rooks, and ravens.
Crows’ choice of food is small pellet dog or cat food, unsalted peanuts, other nuts, eggs, fruits, veggies, and chicken or other types of meat.
6. Dark-eyed juncos
Dark-eyed Junco is one of the species of junco, a set of tiny and grayish New World sparrows. Juncos vary throughout the country, yet they commonly come in dark gray or brown irradiated by a pink bill and pale outer tail feathers. These dark-eyed Juncos are ground birds.
Dark-eyed Juncos’ preferred foods at the feeder include roasted peanut chips, cracked corn, pumpkin and squash seeds, other seeds, and insects.
Doves typically refer to a tiny bird, a long-tailed member of the pigeon origins, while pigeon is commonly referred to as a bigger species of bird.
Doves eat peanuts and cultivated grains, a balanced diet that contains nutritious ingredients with proportions that are perfect for them.
Typical Grackles look like stretched-out blackbirds. Grackles are taller and have longer tails than a common blackbird. You can see them walking on your yard with their long legs.
Large birds like Grackles enjoy whole peanuts in a shell or pick-out nuts.
9. Northern cardinals
The northern cardinals are known as redbird, common cardinal, red cardinal, or just cardinal. They can be found in Southeastern Canada, across the eastern UK from Maine to Minnesota to Texas, and south via Mexico, Belize, and Guatemala.
Male northern cardinals are blazing red all over, with slightly red bills and a black face. Females are light brown overall, with strong red tinges on their wings, tail, and crest. Males and females have similar black faces and red-orange bills.
Northern cardinals enjoy eating crushed peanuts, cracked corn, and berries.
Pyrrhuloxia looks like the northern cardinal. It’s 7-8 inches in length. The pyrrhuloxia has a gray and red breast and has full red wings, tail, crest, and face.
The pyrrhuloxia or desert cardinal can be found in southwest America and northern Mexico.
Pyrrhuloxia’s favorite foods are peanuts or bark butter bits.
Ravens are also known as the Western raven or Northern raven. They are large and all-black passerine or perching birds. Ravens are commonly found across the Northern Hemisphere; they’re the most widely spread among all corvids.
Ravens are carnivores, so most of their diet is meat. But they also like to eat seeds, arthropods, peanuts, and grains.
Titmice look large among the little birds that come to feeders because of their big head and eyes, thick neck, and body. Titmouse is a tiny songbird that originated from North America, a species in the Tit and Chickadee family.
Titmice are regular backyard bird feeders, especially during winter. They love to eat sunflower seeds, peanuts, and any other seeds.
Tits are little birds with plain or colorful plumages, sturdy legs and feet, and short and triangular bills.
Tits, Chickadees and Titmice compose the Paridae. This is a large family of tiny passerine birds that are found mainly in the Northern Hemisphere and Africa.
Tits are attracted to mixed seed, suet pellets, suet balls, and peanuts.
It’s one of the species of birds in the genus Pipilo or Melozone in the family Passerellidae. Most of their species avoid humans; that’s why they may not be familiar to you.
Male towhees have jet-black upperparts and throat and have white wings and back. Females have similar designs but come in grayish-brown while males are black. When they fly, you can see the white corners on their black tails.
Towhees eat peanuts, sunflower seeds, millet, and cracked corn.
Wrens are a family of brown passerine birds, and their family includes 88 species split into 19 genera. They are small, ordinary brown birds with a short tail and a thin bill with a white throat.
Wrens generally love suet and peanuts. One peanut can offer more than a third of their daily metabolic needs.
Should I Feed Birds Year-Round?
Offering treats to our garden visitors may cause them harm, and we can’t forgive ourselves for putting them in danger, especially free-flying birds. It’s better not to feed them than to threaten their lives. Otherwise, it’s ideal to learn more about feeding backyard birds.
Feeding backyard birds should not be done year-round. You can have some rest from feeding your birds during summer since most birds are busy nesting and rearing their babies, and some are busy looking for insects to eat.
Another reason to refrain from feeding your backyard birds during summer is because these foods might attract pests and even bears.
For instance, in Central and Western Massachusetts, it’s preferable to stop feeding birds from the first week of April until the first week of November, considering the number of black bears there.
Make sure that you help birds when they need energy, especially in extremely cold conditions, during late winter or early spring, or when the natural food supplies are becoming scarce.
Winter is the best time to feed your backyard birds; it’s when they need extra food to keep warm and active. Giving them natural foods like peanuts is the best option.
There’s an exception for two species of birds: Hummingbirds, which need extra food to boost their metabolism during summer, and Goldfinches, which nest later than other birds.
If you want your backyard to be the home to different bird species, one of the things that you can do is build a bird sanctuary. This structure provides shelter and food to different kinds of birds. To help you get started with this project, here is our ultimate guide to building a backyard bird sanctuary.
8 Ways to Feed Peanuts to Backyard Birds
“If you like offering peanuts, but find them a bit pricey, mix out-of-shell peanuts with black oil sunflower seeds. Both can be fed from the same feeder,” says birding expert Kimberly Kaufman.
If you love feeding your birds, offer them peanuts. You’ll not only give them protein and a source of energy, but you’ll constantly enjoy watching the birds snagging nuts.
You can offer your birds whole peanuts in shells or cracked unshelled peanuts. Use specially designed peanut bird feeders to discourage attracting other creatures, and keep your cats indoors.
Choose any of the approaches that befit birds in your garden, or consider all of the nifty tricks to attract more birds into your feeders.
1. Place bird feeders at different stages
Juncos and Towhees are usually fed on the ground, while Cardinals feed in shrubs, and Chickadees, Titmice, and Woodpeckers are fed in trees. Plus, to keep from crowding and to attract a large variety of birds, it’s recommended to offer table feeders for ground-feeding birds, hoppers for shrubs, and treetop feeders.
2. Leave whole peanuts in shells on your table
Feeding whole peanuts in shells is ideal for backyard birds; it’s also a perfect means to attract birds that forage for their food. Jays, Crows, and Magpies enjoy peanuts in shells, and even tinier birds like Tits are often seen chipping away at the shells to take the nut.
You can leave full peanuts for birds on a table, on the ground feeder, or you can string them with strong thread and hang them around your garden. You can also push whole peanuts into holes drilled into a log or branch to encourage Woodpeckers and Nuthatches.
Remember: Don’t leave out whole peanuts for birds during their breeding season, as parents may feed these nuts to their babies. Also, refrain from putting out whole peanuts altogether; it’s better to crush them into smaller bits.
3. Feed cracked and unshelled peanuts to small birds
Wrens and other small birds enjoy cracked peanuts. Backyard birds easily eat small pieces of peanuts, which will also reduce the chance of predators like cats pouncing on them as they eat.
4. Use specially designed bird feeders for peanuts
You can use specially designed peanut bird feeders made of steel mesh or wire with holes of around 6mm. This way, the birds can strike at the nuts and can only get small pieces. Putting peanuts into a large feeder encourages bigger species of birds to visit your yard.
5. Discourage squirrels from getting into your garden
When you leave peanut feeders in your garden, expect to find squirrels since it’s their favorite food too; they could even finish your entire nut supply.
Yes, squirrels love peanuts just like birds, so if you believe the squirrels need their own place to eat, then you can get a peanut feeder designed for squirrels.
6. Maintain clean peanut feeders
Regularly clean all of your feeders because peanuts can make them moldy. If it’s going to rain, just put out a few peanuts at a time.
You can use a long-handled bottle brush to wash your feeders, scrub with dish detergent and rinse with a strong hose. Then, dip in a bucket of 10% non-chlorine bleach solution, rinse well, and let it dry in the sun.
7. Keep cats away from your yard
When feeding your backyard birds, make sure you keep your cats indoors because they are harmful to birds. Even bells on cats failed to warn from predation. Also, the safety of your cats is not just for the sake of birds but is also to secure them from any illness, accidents, and fights with other animals.
In the United States, hundreds of millions of birds are killed by cats annually. Usually, cats dive toward ground-feeding birds and they will remain stunned and suddenly bump into the window.
8. Place feeders within three feet of windows if possible
In the United States, roughly one billion birds die annually after flying into windows. You can prevent these accidents by putting feeders within three feet of windows, if feasible. Placing hanging decor outside the windows can also prevent birds from bumping into them. You can set fruit tree netting outside the windows to avert birds from the glass.
Peanut feeding tips: While most backyard birds love peanuts, make sure you offer them without salt, sugar, spice and chocolate. Buy peanuts from trusted bird food suppliers and make sure they are free of aflatoxin, a toxin brought by particular fungi that can be found on crops like corn, peanuts, cottonseed, and tree nuts.
Store your peanuts in a sealed container to avoid moisture getting in, and in well-ventilated places. Dispose of any peanuts that show signs of mold, and clean and dry the containers where they are stored before replenishing them with fresh food.
Load your bird feeders with only enough peanuts for a couple of days. And ensure that you observe proper hygiene by washing and disinfecting your feeders at least once a week.
Salted vs Unsalted Peanuts
Give only unsalted peanuts to your backyard birds. High levels of salt are dangerous for backyard birds. Since birds can’t digest large amounts of salt in their diet, it may result in renal failure and other health issues, lead to their painful death, and eventually deplete their numbers.
To avoid this, you can buy peanuts for birds in bird stores or you can offer accessible freshwater to your birds to mitigate the salt’s dehydrating effects.
Salts or special coatings are not safe for your avians, as salts absorb into the peanuts as they are roasted and stay for some time. Even if you washed off all the salt content of peanuts, it’s still poisonous.
Avoid giving them peanut butter, unless it’s specially made peanut butter for birds.
Raw vs Roasted Peanuts
There’s a long debate on the best way to offer peanuts to birds, raw or roasted. Until now, there’s been no verification or scientific data that shows that giving peanuts to birds has a hazardous effect since they contain trypsin inhibitors, which can result in kidney and pancreas failure.
To be safe, serve only roasted peanuts for birds. But if you bought raw peanuts from the store, you can put them in the oven for 115 minutes at 350 degrees and they’ll be fine to serve.
Best Foods To Feed Birds
Offering a variety of foods for backyard birds is entertaining, but feeding them with the most applicable foods in a particular season is rewarding.
The best food to offer your birds varies by season and by their species. During winter, serve them high-energy (high-fat) foods to maintain their fat reserves to endure the frigid nights. In the summer months, feed your birds high-protein foods, especially while they are molting.
Most varieties of birds enjoy fruits, vegetables, nuts, plants, pollen or nectar, insects, grubs, larvae, worms, small mammals, and many types of seeds.
Serving these nutritious foods to your birds in certain seasons will surely surprise you with a flocking of different species of birds to your backyard.
During summer months, many birds eat insects and fruits aside from seeds, and it’s time for you to have a few breaks in feeding them. By learning the vital foods of birds during summer, you’ll be able to fulfill their needs.
The following foods are extremely popular among backyard birds during summer.
- Bird seeds, especially black oil sunflower seeds, hearts, or chips
- Apple chunks, banana slices, and orange
- Fruit jellies such as apples and grape jelly
- Peanuts for birds
You might think birds can easily forage their food this season, considering the new growth and fine temperatures. The availability of natural food for backyard birds is enough until the late summer and early fall. Birds need help just like during winter.
Offer these edibles so your backyard birds will enjoy the pleasant climate:
- Mixed birdseed
- Fruits like bananas, grapes, raisins, and sultanas
- Dried mealworms
When the cool climate starts, many birds begin to search for energy-packed foods. It’s easier to them if you readily fill your bird feeders with foods that they scour over the landscape.
Try these foods:
- Sunflower seed, peanut hearts, and safflower seeds
- Suet cakes
- Peanut butter
- Sterilized seeds
Feeding birds the best foods during winter is valuable since they need energy to create fat reserves for frosty winter nights.
These foods include:
- Black oil sunflower seeds
- Suet mixed with fruit or seeds like positively peanut suet, wild berry suet, and suet and seed
- Peanuts for birds
- Peanut butter
- Apples, orange wedges, banana slices, halved grapes, and melon
- White Proso Millet
- Salt crystals
- Seed mixes
Having birds in your backyard is definitely a sight to see as well as a pleasure to hear. If you want these winged creatures to spend more time in your property, you need to give them a reason to visit and stay. The main thing that you can provide them with is food. There are tons of bird feed options out there, but peanuts are the way to go.
While there are numerous species of backyard birds that love to eat peanuts, you should keep them safe from what you feed. You should do more research related to feeding peanuts to birds. Offering them nutritious foods and a secured shelter is a simple way to treat them humanely. Let’s protect and take care of them when they visit our homes.