What Birds Eat Peanuts? (+ Safety Tips for Feeding)

Peanuts are a popular and nutritious food source for a variety of backyard birds. Many bird species enjoy feasting on peanuts, making them an excellent addition to any bird watcher’s feeding routine. Offering peanuts in different forms, such as whole peanuts, cracked peanuts, and peanut hearts, attracts various bird species ranging from small chickadees to larger crows and woodpeckers. Providing peanuts to backyard birds not only enhances their diet but also creates a lively atmosphere where bird enthusiasts can enjoy observing their behaviors.

When feeding peanuts to birds, it is essential to consider their nutritional value and safety. Unsalted and unsweetened peanuts are highly recommended to prevent any potential harm. It’s also crucial to find the best bird feeders for peanuts, as different bird species have unique feeding preferences. By taking these factors into consideration, bird enthusiasts can offer a suitable food source that makes their backyards an attractive place for birdwatching.

Key Takeaways

  • Many bird species enjoy peanuts, making them a popular food source for backyard bird feeders
  • Unsalted and unsweetened peanuts provide nutritional benefits and safety for birds
  • Choosing the best bird feeders for peanuts is vital to cater to the preferences of various bird species

Birds That Eat Peanuts

Peanuts are a popular choice for feeding birds in your backyard, as they provide plentiful nutrients and are enjoyed by a variety of bird species.

Read Next: What Birds eat peanut butter?


One such bird that enjoys peanuts is the woodpecker. This includes the downy woodpecker and red-bellied woodpecker. So if you like seeing these feathered friends at your feeders, considering putting out shelled peanuts, or suet containing peanuts.


Chickadees, such as the black-capped chickadee, are also fond of peanuts and can be commonly seen in backyard bird feeders. In addition to peanuts, they’ll also eat peanut butter if you put that out for them.


A diverse range of jay species, including blue jays, stellar’s jays, and Canada jays, are known to enjoy peanuts as a supplementary feed. They’ll cart away peanuts in the shell to cache for later consumption, making quick work of a feeder offering these nuts.


Nuthatches like the white-breasted nuthatch and red-breasted nuthatch, similarly, find peanuts to be an appealing option for a snack. They’ll grab shelled or whole peanuts, and they’re also known to love peanut butter.


Doves like mourning doves are another species you could find visiting your backyard for peanuts. This adds variety to their usual diet and may attract them to your bird feeder.


Northern cardinals may also enjoy snacking on peanuts at times. Peanuts provide the essential fats these birds need, especially in colder seasons. They seem to prefer shelled peanuts, though they can eat whole peanuts as well.


Sparrows, such as native sparrows and juncos, along with towhees, may be attracted to the peanuts you put out in your backyard too. Providing peanuts can entice a range of tit and titmice species to spend time in your backyard as well.


Some other bird species that could potentially visit your backyard bird feeder for peanuts are wrens. If you want to feed wrens peanuts, give them chopped peanuts as these are easier for their small beaks to deal with.


Peanuts will draw blue tits and the tufted titmouse to your home all year, including in the winter if you provide them. They’re also fans of sunflower seeds, so mixes of peanuts and sunflower seeds are a good idea if you want to entice these birds.

Crows, Ravens and Grackles

Adding peanuts to your bird feeder can also attract crows, such as the American crow, as well as ravens and grackles. Note, these birds can scare off smaller birds like cardinals, robins, and sparrows. If you’re interested in deterring these kinds of bigger birds at your feeders, read our article How to Keep Crows Away from Bird Feeders.

Feeding Peanuts to Birds

Peanuts can be a great addition to your bird feeders, as they provide a high source of fat, protein, and energy, which are essential for birds, especially during winter months. Many species of birds enjoy peanuts, including jays, nuthatches, woodpeckers, and finches. Moreover, there are various types of peanuts that can be used for feeding, including whole peanuts, shelled peanuts, and peanut butter.

Shelled vs. Whole Peanuts

Shelled peanuts are an excellent option for bird feeders as most birds can easily eat them without much trouble. Furthermore, these peanuts have high protein content which can be particularly beneficial during cold temperatures. On the other hand, unshelled (whole) peanuts can be a bit challenging for some birds to break open, but they still provide a nutritious source of energy for the consumers. In any case, make sure that the peanuts you offer are unsalted, as too much salt can be harmful to birds.

Bird Feeder Options

When it comes to choosing the right bird feeder, consider using cage feeders, mesh feeders, or platform feeders for feeding peanuts, as they can accommodate different sizes and types of peanuts. In addition to peanuts, it’s important to diversify the bird feed by offering sunflower seeds, insects, fruits, and worms to attract a variety of birds and provide them with the nutrients they need.

Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is another way to provide birds with much-needed energy, especially during the winter months. It can be easily spread onto tree trunks or wooden surfaces and is best served without added sugar or salt. However, peanut butter should be offered in moderation, as too much fat can be unhealthy for birds.

Bird-Friendly Backyard

Establishing a bird-friendly environment in your backyard or garden involves not only providing nutritious food like peanuts, sunflower seeds, and other essentials but also offering sources of fiber, calcium, and potassium for a well-rounded diet. Additionally, ensure that fresh water is available for birds to drink and bathe in, and provide nesting materials and secure shelter to further attract birds to your space.

Keep in mind, offering different types of peanuts and using suitable feeders can make the experience even more enjoyable for your feathered visitors. Remember to maintain a bird-friendly environment with diverse food sources and necessary amenities, and you’ll be rewarded with the delightful sight of a thriving bird community.

Peanut Safety for Birds

Peanuts can be a great source of energy for birds, especially during winter when natural food sources may be scarce. However, offering birds peanuts, whether shelled or unshelled, requires some precautions to ensure their safety and health.

  • Firstly, avoid providing salted peanuts, as high salt content can be harmful to birds. It’s essential to make sure peanuts are fresh and mold-free, as mold can contain harmful aflatoxins that may cause illness in birds and even squirrels. To minimize the risk of mold, store nuts in a cool, dry place and regularly check for any signs of spoilage.
  • When offering peanuts, it’s important to consider the size of the nut pieces for different bird species. Shelled peanuts can be provided whole for larger birds, while smaller birds such as black-capped chickadees and white-breasted nuthatches may prefer crushed or halved peanuts. Mixing peanuts with other food options like sunflower seeds and worms can help attract a wider variety of birds.
  • For birds that prefer peanuts in the shell, it can be beneficial to offer them in a designated feeder, as this can prevent squirrels from monopolizing the food source. Keep in mind that shelled peanuts may be more accessible for various bird species, as they don’t require the effort of removing the shell.

Best Bird Feeders for Peanuts

If you want to attract peanut-loving birds, it’s essential to choose the right bird feeder. In this section, we will discuss some excellent options for peanut-specific bird feeders.

  • One great option is the Naturesroom Peanut Bird Feeder. This feeder has a reputation for being durable and has the capability of holding up to 2 pounds of peanuts. Its chew-proof design ensures it can withstand even the most persistent critters, allowing for prolonged use, making it an excellent choice for feeding birds.
  • If you’re looking to attract blue jays specifically, the Peanut Picnic Table Feeder is a fun and unique option. This adorable picnic table feeder comes with a blue enameled steel bowl that can be easily removed for cleaning. The charming design is sure to entice blue jays for a meal, and you might even spot squirrels or chipmunks stopping by for a snack.
  • In addition to peanuts, birds like mourning doves also enjoy sunflower seeds, which can be an excellent addition to your bird feeder. Providing a mix of peanuts and sunflower seeds is a great way to attract a diverse array of avian species that appreciate different types of food.

The Nutritional Value of Peanuts

Peanuts are a popular and nutritious food not only for humans but also for wild birds. They are technically considered a legume rather than a nut, but their nutritional content makes them an attractive food for various bird species. One of the main reasons for their appeal is the presence of protein and healthy fats, which provide birds with much-needed energy to sustain their energetic lifestyles.

In terms of macronutrient content, peanuts are particularly rich in fats, which comprise about 49 grams in every 100 grams of peanuts. They also contain a substantial amount of protein, around 25.8 grams in every 100 grams, while carbohydrates make up 16.13 grams per 100 grams, with 8.5 grams of fiber and 4.72 grams of sugar.

The micronutrient content of peanuts is equally noteworthy, as they supply essential minerals that birds require for optimal health. For instance, 100 grams of peanuts provide:

  • 92 milligrams of calcium
  • 4.58 milligrams of iron
  • 168 milligrams of magnesium
  • 376 milligrams of phosphorous
  • 705 milligrams of potassium

By offering peanuts to the birds in your backyard or local area, you are providing them with a nutritious source of energy and essential minerals. As you can see, peanuts are a well-rounded food option for wild birds due to their rich nutritional profile, which plays a significant role in maintaining proper bird health and ensuring their survival in various environments. Remember to keep the peanuts plain and unsalted, as birds cannot properly process salt and it may be harmful to them.

Fun Facts About Peanuts

  • Peanuts, despite their name, are not actually nuts. They’re part of the legume family, just like beans and peas. These fascinating plants grow underground, with peanuts forming on the roots of the plant.
  • Did you know that peanuts are a favorite treat for some backyard birds, like northern cardinals? These beautiful birds enjoy peanuts, as they provide a rich source of energy and essential nutrients for a balanced diet.
  • Interestingly, peanuts are not only beneficial to birds, but also to humans. They are packed with nutrients, containing significant amounts of protein, healthy fats, and fiber. In addition, peanuts are rich in essential minerals, such as calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, and potassium.
  • One unique aspect of peanuts as a food source for birds is that certain avian species have developed fascinating techniques for feeding on them. For example, nuthatches hold the peanut between their feet while pecking away at it, while other birds like the tufted titmouse use their short, curved bills to crack open the hard shell.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do cardinals eat peanuts in the shell?

Yes, cardinals can eat peanuts in the shell. They have strong beaks that allow them to crack open the shells and access the nutritious kernels inside. However, they may prefer shelled peanuts due to their easier accessibility.

Can birds eat unsalted roasted peanuts?

Birds can consume unsalted roasted peanuts, and many bird species enjoy them as a nutritious snack. Roasted peanuts contain essential nutrients like protein, which are beneficial to birds. However, it is always more preferable to offer birds raw, unsalted peanuts for better digestion and nutrition.

Are roasted peanuts ok for birds?

While roasted peanuts are okay for birds to eat, it’s essential to ensure they are unsalted. Too much salt can be harmful to birds. Also, birds may find it easier to digest raw peanuts than roasted ones, as they retain more of their natural nutrition.

Can birds eat salted peanuts?

It is not recommended to give birds salted peanuts, as an excessive amount of salt can be harmful to their health. Birds have a delicate salt balance, and too much sodium can lead to dehydration, kidney damage, and even death.

Can birds eat peanut butter?

Yes, birds can eat peanut butter. Many bird species, such as woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees, enjoy peanut butter as it provides a high-energy snack. However, it is crucial to choose natural, unsalted peanut butter without any added sugar, additives, or sweeteners.

Do sparrows eat peanuts?

Sparrows, like many other bird species, can eat peanuts. They are more likely to prefer shelled peanuts, as they are easier for them to consume. Offering sparrows a variety of foods, including peanuts, seeds, and suet cakes, will help attract them to your yard and keep them well-fed and healthy.

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