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11/07/2007

 
 

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What exactly is it that makes peanuts one of the most sought after treats of the wildlife community? An underground tuber, the peanut is just about as appealing as nuts from trees. It is a high protein, high-energy food and is an excellent source of fat.

Raw peanuts served in the shell are excellent for strong billed birds, woodpeckers, blue jays, titmice, nuthatches, cardinals, and even crows. Grackles make an honest effort to get inside the brittle shell, often unsuccessful, even after trying soaking them in the birdbath. Offer them on bird tables, in a mesh bag, or strung on a string. The latter two will ensure that the nuts are eaten and not taken away and cached for eating later. Birds store nuts because they are nutritious and keep well. Unshelled raw peanuts are equally popular. The smaller, red skinned Spanish peanut is a good choice for feeders designed for this purpose. Fashioned primarily of hardware cloth, and into a tube like shape, it is very popular with the Downey Woodpecker, Tufted Titmouse, Carolina Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch and the Carolina Wren. There is virtually no waste when using this type of feeder. Hanging from 3 to 5 feet above the ground, it provides protection, against predators, while the birds are feeding.

Peanut containing suet and peanut butter mixtures are also very popular. There are many good ones available commercially, or you can make your own. Woodpeckers, especially are attracted to both of these great treats.

When feeding peanuts or any type of seed or nut, be aware that mold can be deadly to birds. I cannot stress enough the importance in keeping your feeders clean and free from mold, especially in cold, wet weather. Do not ever feed wild birds or any other wildlife food that is already moldy. Peanuts could contain mycotoxin mold if they have not been properly processed or stored. Buy only first quality peanuts from reputable sources. Raw peanuts are best, but roasted will not hurt the birds. Refrain from feeding wild birds salted nuts.

Squirrels love peanuts too! Please provide an area for them to enjoy this wonderful treat. A munch box is a great feature to add to your habitat. It will not only keep the squirrels from misbehaving, but also keep the birds from making off with all the goodies. At less than $15, it is a good investment when you consider it will save your birdfeeders from destruction. Chipmunks will also forage for peanuts.