Monday, January 11, 2021

What kind of birds eat peanuts?

Many birds love peanuts!

This article lists the kinds of birds that eat peanuts.

This article also tells the different ways you can feed peanuts to birds at your home feeder.

The kinds of birds at your feeder that eat peanuts include jays, chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers, titmouses, cardinals, doves, and more!

Photo of Blue Jay eating peanut. Image by edbo23 from Pixabay
"Anybody want a peanut?"

Kinds of birds that eat peanuts

Peanuts are a high-energy food for birds. They are especially beneficial in the winter.

Most birds that eat seeds will also eat peanuts. I list the birds below that frequently eat peanuts. 

Sometimes other feeder birds will eat peanuts. For instance, towhees and juncos and other sparrows will sometimes eat peanuts, but not regularly. So I do not list them below.

Some birds like whole peanuts in the shell. Others like just small peanut pieces. Farther down in this article I will discuss more specifics on how to feed peanuts to birds. First, in this next section discussing birds that like peanuts, I will note whether birds prefer whole peanuts or pieces.

Widespread birds that eat peanuts across the United States

Some peanut-eating birds are found across the U.S. These are likely at your bird feeder, almost no matter where you live across the nation.

Photo of White-breasted Nuthatch on a branch
White-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson.

White-breasted Nuthatch

This small little bird favors black oil sunflower seeds, but also loves all sorts of nuts and peanuts. They like shelled peanuts best.

Photo of Downy Woodpecker on suet feeder
Downy Woodpecker. Greg Gillson.

Downy Woodpecker

This smallest of North American woodpeckers visits feeders primarily for suet, but will also eat seeds and peanuts. They like peanuts pieces, especially in suet!

Photo of American Crow on fence
American Crow. Greg Gillson

American Crow

American Crows are large birds often found in family groups and flocks. They will quickly gobble up all your whole peanuts and carry them away. The key to keeping crows away is not to feed them table scraps of any sort--bread or meat, especially.

Photo of Mourning Dove on the ground
Mourning Dove. Greg Gillson

Mourning Dove

Doves eat many types of grains and seeds, including peanut pieces.

Photo of European Starling at bird bath
European Starling. Greg Gillson

European Starling

Starlings often visit your backyard in large flocks. They will eat peanuts, especially in suet. To keep starlings from consuming all your suet in minutes, offer it from an upside-down suet feeder. Starlings can't hang upside down to reach it, while smaller birds can!

Photo of Northern Flicker in a tree
Northern Flicker. Greg Gillson.

Northern Flicker

These large ant-eating woodpeckers have yellow wing and tail linings in the East, and salmon-colored wing and tail linings in the West. They visit suet feeders and will eat peanuts, too.

Birds that eat peanuts in the East and Southeast

This section lists the birds that eat peanuts that are found primarily in the Eastern and Southeastern parts of the United States.

Photo of Carolina Chickadee at feeder. GeorgeB2 from Pixabay
Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

This chickadee of the Southeast U.S. loves peanuts! They may prefer them in small pieces.

Photo of Blue Jay in bird bath. Skeeze from Pixabay
Blue Jay

Blue Jay

Jays love peanuts. They eat them whole, in the shell, as well as shelled. In the fall they may carry off all your whole peanuts to hide and bury them for winter.

Photo of Red-bellied Woodpecker on tree trunk. Skeeze from Pixabay
Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

This is a common woodpecker in the East. They come to feeders for suet and nuts, including peanuts.

Photo of Common Grackle in bird bath. GeorgiaLens from Pixabay
Common Grackle

Common Grackle

These larger blackbirds sometimes appear in larger flocks and may clean out your feeders of many foods, including peanuts. Often they appear seasonally. Put seeds in tube feeders to make it hard for grackles to feed.

Photo of Tufted Titmouse on bird feeder. Anne773 from Pixabay
Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

This smaller bird loves peanuts! In fact, they even love them whole, in the shell.

Brown-headed Nuthatch in bird feeder. mlmclaren from Pixabay
Brown-headed Nuthatch

Brown-headed Nuthatch

This tiny bird of the Southeastern pine forests loves all sorts of nuts, including shelled peanuts.

Photo of Northern Cardinal at bird feeder. GeorgeB2 from Pixabay
Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinal

This bright red bird is common throughout the East. They eat larger seeds and shelled peanuts, too.

Birds that eat peanuts in the West

There are many birds found primarily in the western United States that eat peanuts.

Photo of Steller's Jay on the lawn
Steller's Jay. Greg Gillson.

Steller's Jay

These jays live in conifer and mixed woods. They love peanuts--any way you serve them! But they are fond of whole peanuts in the shell.

Photo of California Scrub-Jay on the ground
California Scrub-Jay. Greg Gillson.

California Scrub-Jay

This is a common jay in oak woodlands and residential areas of the West. They love all nuts, including peanuts in the shell.

In the interior Great Basin resides a similar-looking jay called the Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay. As with all jays, they eat peanuts.

Photo of a Pygmy Nuthatch on a branch
Pygmy Nuthatch. Greg Gillson.

Pygmy Nuthatch

These tiny birds live in the dry pine forests in western mountains. Like other nuthatches, they love to eat peanut pieces.

Photo of Chestnut-backed Chickadee in conifer
Chestnut-backed Chickadee. Greg Gillson.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

These chickadees are found in damp conifer forests of the West. They eat shelled peanuts. 

Photo of Ladder-backed Woodpecker in Palo Verde tree
Ladder-backed Woodpecker. Greg Gillson.

Ladder-backed Woodpecker

Most woodpeckers will eat peanuts. This bird of the desert Southwest is especially known for visiting feeders to eat sunflower seeds, suet, and peanuts.

Photo of an Oak Titmouse in a tree
Oak Titmouse. Greg Gillson.

Oak Titmouse

Like other titmouses, this small bird of Western oak woodlands loves peanuts.

Photo of Mountain Chickadee on branch
Mountain Chickadee. Greg Gillson.

Mountain Chickadee

All chickadees love shelled peanuts. This one with the white eyebrow is found primarily in high-elevation conifer forests.

Clark's Nutcracker on wall. Mike Goad from Pixabay
Clark's Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

This relative of the jays is found at high elevations in the West. If you visit any ski resorts, be sure to bring along some peanuts in the shell for these birds!

Birds that eat peanuts in the North

These peanut-eating birds occur across the northern tier of states from East to West.

Photo of Black-capped Chickadee in twig tips
Black-capped Chickadee. Greg Gillson.

Black-capped Chickadee

These may be the most well-known of the chickadees in the United States. They are common at backyard feeders. They love to eat many kinds of seeds and nuts, including peanuts, shelled and pieces.

Photo of Canada Jay in conifer
Canada Jay. Greg Gillson.

Canada Jay

These bold birds often called "camp robbers" love peanuts in the shell. They are found in boreal forests of the north and southward in the higher mountains. They are often found in campgrounds in dense conifer forests.

Photo of Red-breasted Nuthatch on branch
Red-breasted Nuthatch. Greg Gillson.

Red-breasted Nuthatch

Found in conifer forests in the northern and mountainous parts of the United States. These tiny birds like to eat sunflower seeds and nuts, and also love shelled peanuts.

What kind of peanuts can you feed to different kinds of birds?

You can feed birds whole peanuts or shelled peanuts or peanut pieces. You can feed birds peanuts in suet, peanuts mixed in with other bird seed, and even peanut butter!

Feed birds roasted peanuts, not raw!

Legumes, including beans, peas, soy beans, and peanuts contain trypsin inhibitors. 

I'm no expert and may not understand correctly. However, apparently, these foods, in their raw state, can interfere with digestion. This could inhibit nutrients from all foods from nourishing the body when these are eaten.

The answer is to feed birds roasted peanuts. Evidently roasting or cooking solves the problem. One reference for feeding peanuts to bird recommended baking raw peanuts for 15 minutes in the oven at 350℉ to remove the trypsin inhibitors.

Don't feed birds peanuts that are salted or sugared

We know the deleterious effects of high salt and sugar diets on humans. But the truth is, we don't know how these additives affect the lives of birds that only naturally live a half dozen to 10 years in the wild.

In fact, certain finches actually seek out salt under certain circumstances (cow salt licks).

You certainly don't want to harm the birds that feed at your home bird feeder. Thus, don't make a habit of feeding birds such items as salted potato or corn chips, fried foods, or sugared or salted peanuts.

Different ways to feed peanuts to birds

Here are common ways to feed peanuts to birds.

Whole peanuts in the shell

Whole peanuts (roasted, unsalted) in the shell are a favorite of jays and other birds. Most birds, especially in fall, probably take the peanuts away and hide them in a secret cache for later in winter.

Birds that have been reported to especially like whole peanuts in the shell include Blue Jays, Tufted Titmouses, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Common Grackles, Fish Crows, European Starlings, Steller's Jays. Not all of these are welcome at bird feeders.

Of course, squirrels love whole peanuts. Some people who feed birds also enjoy feeding squirrels. Other people try to keep the squirrels away from their bird feeders--a difficult task.

Feeding shelled peanuts, halves, and pieces to birds

You can purchase roasted pieces or halves of peanuts out of the shell. Make sure these are unsalted. Many, many birds will eat these, especially birds that normally eat seeds.

But you may be surprised to see insect eating birds eating small crushed pieces of peanuts. These could include Yellow-rumped Warbler, Carolina Wren, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

Here is an affiliate link to an Amazon page showing bird feeders for dispensing both whole peanuts in the shell, as well as shelled peanuts.

Feeding birds peanuts in suet

Suet is a winter time treat for birds. It is made of rendered fat or lard. Think of it as a big juicy grub for birds.

Many birds love suet. Chickadees, and insect eating birds such as wrens, bushtits, kinglets or warblers will eat suet. Jays and woodpeckers will love it.

There are a myriad varieties of suet. But a favorite flavor with the birds is suet with peanuts.

I really like the bird's response to the St Albans Bay peanut and berry suet (Amazon affiliate link).

Feeding birds peanut butter

You can make an warm-weather alternative to suet. Mix together one part peanut butter with 5 parts corn meal. Spread this on tree bark or similar surface. Again. low salt and low sugar is best.

Again, it is the jays, woodpeckers, and nuthatches that love suet and love peanuts, that also love peanut butter.

Mixed bird seed with peanuts

Finally, peanuts can be found in some mixed bird seed varieties.

Peanuts are frequently found in no-mess or waste-free bird seeds. Once they are out of the shell, they are entirely edible.

While not a no-mess variety, this Wagner's brand Greatest Variety (below) has some peanuts, and over 40% sunflower seeds--the favorite of most seed eating birds.


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What kind of birds eat cracked corn?

Review: Wagner's Songbird Supreme mixed bird seed

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  1. Robbins also eat peanuts I just discovered. I had no idea.

    1. I didn't know, either! Thanks for sharing your observation.


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