Bird Food In Winter: Are Peanuts Useful For Birds?

Last updated on October 23rd, 2023 at 08:55 pm

Nuts are an ideal winter food due to their high fat content. This applies primarily to domestic species of nuts, but many question whether other nuts, such as peanuts, is a suitable food for birds. Not every food is suitable for every type of bird. Therefore, peanuts are conditionally a suitable bird food and it is important to offer the birds as wide a range of feed as possible, which should include various nuts. But are peanuts suitable as bird food in winter?

Bird food in winter

Basically, birds that are fed in winter are divided into two different categories, soft feeders and grain feeders. Soft feeders prefer soft food such as insects or wild fruits. Peanuts are completely unsuitable for this group. Peanuts are only useful for granivores.

Bird Food In Winter: Are Peanuts Useful For Birds?

Grain eaters can already be recognized by the shape of their beaks. Compared to soft feeders, granivores have a rather short but broad and strong beak. With it they can crack grains on the one hand well and on the other hand these also peel. Partially, granivores and soft feeders have a feeding plate that overlaps, as in the form of wild fruits, but granivores prefer seeds.
Grain eaters that spend the winter include:

  • House Sparrow
  • Woodpecker
  • tit
  • finch
  • Nuthatch
  • Bullfinch
  • Bunting
  • Greenfinch
  • Goldfinch
  • Siskin
  • Robin

Wild pigeons are also grain eaters, but they are not welcome guests at feeders. They are disease carriers and should therefore not be fed if possible, so that their population is not unnaturally increased.
Grain eaters are the group of birds that can also be fed peanuts. However, peanuts should not be fed exclusively, as although they are a rich source of protein and fat, they are a one-sided source of food.

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Peanuts as bird food

Those who wish to offer peanuts as part of their bird feed should do so properly. Feed mixes containing peanut are occasionally available in stores, but they are often suitable for a limited amount of grain-eating birds. To ensure that peanut is a food source for as many of the eligible bird species as possible, peanut should never be fed whole. It should always be peanut curd. Although the peanut can also be offered with the shell, in this case it is usually the second choice and nuts without the shell are preferred.

Tip: Peanut can be part of bird food mixes, or offered as a single food in addition to other seeds and grains.

Peanut bird feed can be placed in common feeders or dispensers. However, you should avoid peanut feeders in nets. Not only can the nets be blown away by the wind when empty and end up in nature as plastic waste, but the birds can also get tangled in them. The emptier the net becomes, the greater the risk that they will get tangled in it with their claws.

auf Vogelfutter im Netz verzichten

If there is no other possibility than to buy the peanut food in the net, the food should be taken out of the net beforehand. There are now suitable dispensers into which the feed can be transferred from the nets. Occasionally, such feed is also sold in larger quantities and can then be transferred in portions into the dispensers.

Make your own bird food from peanuts

Offering peanut feed as part of winter feeding makes sense. However, the feed is not always available locally in stores. As an alternative to ready-made products, you can make peanut bird food yourself. To do this, buy suitable peanuts in stores. When buying, however, you must pay attention to a few things, so that the peanut does not become a danger. The purchased peanuts must have the following properties:

  • unsalted
  • unroasted
  • heated for a maximum of a short time
  • no mold
  • as far as possible organically grown
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Above all, make sure that the raw materials purchased are completely without salt and have not been roasted. Roasting favors that the peanut, when it comes into contact with oxygen after opening the package, becomes rancid faster. Rancid nuts can cause dangerous digestive problems in birds. Moldy feed can even be a reason why birds die. Therefore, when choosing raw materials, make sure they are of high quality.

You can then coarsely chop the nuts. To do this, first put the shelled nuts in a plastic bag and then roughly crush them with a rolling pin. So you can put the kernels to the birds already in a feeder. However, it is better to offer the peanut as part of a feed mix for grain eaters.

To do this, heat coconut oil or beef tallow in a pot. Then mix in the peanut crumbs and other grains. Pour the mixture into molds and hang it up with a string after it has cooled down. Small clay pots, for example, are suitable as containers.

Feeding whole peanuts
The whole peanut is suitable only for a few birds, but they gratefully accept this food. It is not uncommon, however, for squirrels to raid birdhouses when whole nuts of any kind are fed. Therefore, if you want to feed primarily the birds, you should make sure that the peanut is offered whole in such a way that it is safe from other fellow eaters.

Specialized in cracking certain nuts is the jay. However, it rarely visits a feeder directly. This means that you should bring suitable food near its habitats. The peanut has a shell that can still be cracked by the jay’s beak. However, he does this at his leisure and therefore creates small depots with his food where he then calmly picks at it.
For the jay, the food should preferably be offered in the area of trees and not at a free-standing bird house. Here the danger is larger that also rodents come to the fodder, which can be minimized however by barriers at suspension devices.

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You can make the feed for the jay yourself, as with other grain-eaters. The effort in this case is even much less. This time you can buy the peanut feed with shell. Then thread the nuts one by one on a thread. The peanut has a relatively soft shell, which is easy to pierce with a thicker needle.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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