Peanuts are a familiar and popular food for backyard birds, but can birds eat peanut butter? Checking the ingredient list on a peanut butter jar reveals hydrogenated vegetable oil, salt, molasses, sugar and a range of other additives. Backyard birders may worry about how healthy peanut butter can be for birds, but it can be a great treat.
Despite minor additives in most peanut butters – the exact composition varies by brand – the main ingredient is always peanuts. Peanuts are an ideal source of fat, calories and protein for birds, providing good energy for all their active needs. Peanut butter also has other nutritious components, including…
While these vitamins and minerals may only be present in small amounts, they are still essential for a bird's healthy diet and peanut butter can provide them.
Most birds that eat either nuts or suet will also happily eat peanut butter. t is favored by smaller birds, since peanut butter is easier to collect in small bills and doesn't need to be cracked, shelled or broken to be eaten. The most popular birds that will snack on peanut butter include...
•Chickadees, tits and titmice
•Wrens, nuthatches and creepers
•Woodpeckers, especially smaller species
Larger nut-loving birds, including thrashers, grackles, starlings, blackbirds, jays and other corvids may also try peanut butter. Larger species, however, are more likely to enjoy whole or shelled nuts rather than softer butters, leaving this treat for smaller birds.
Any peanut butter that is safe for human consumption can also be safely fed to birds, but the most ideal options are peanut butter brands with the least additives or extra ingredients. Organic or fresh peanut butters are best, and many wild bird supply stores or nature centers offer peanut or other nut butters specially formulated for feeding birds. Other peanut butter brands can also be offered to birds, including generic store brands. Birds can have peanut butter that is past its best by date, but no butter that is rancid or spoiled should be available to birds, as it could be toxic or dangerous.
Both creamy and crunchy peanut butter blends are equally attractive to birds. Peanut-butter-and-jelly products are not recommended, however, since different birds enjoy jelly and don't necessarily eat peanut butter. Sugar-free or low-fat peanut butters are not suitable for birds either, as they lack the nutritional composition birds need, and substitute additives can be dangerous for birds. When available, low-salt peanut butters are ideal, as it is uncertain whether too much salt is bad for birds. Conscientious backyard birders will not want to take chances by offering birds excess salt.
Of course, no peanut butter products such as cookies, candies or fudge should ever be offered to birds. No matter how much peanut butter they may contain, the extra ingredients in these snacks are not healthy for a bird's diet.
Till next time, this is Becky Litterer from Becky's Greenhouse, Dougherty, Iowa