Go Nuts: Why You Need to Offer Peanuts in Your Backyard

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

Did you know that peanuts are the singular best source of fat and protein you can offer to your backyard birds? Next week is National Peanut Day and we want to prepare you to celebrate with all of your backyard wildlife. 

Red-bellied woodpecker with an unshelled peanut. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

Both shelled and unshelled peanuts are considered high energy food sources and are enjoyed by a wide range of birds and other critters. We are going to break down some of our favourite ways to offer peanuts, both shelled and unshelled in your yard. Not only do peanuts provide an incredible food source during periods of high demand including molting and caching for winter, there are so many fun ways to offer them for your viewing pleasure! 

Unshelled Peanuts 

There are a variety of way to offer unshelled peanuts, including: 

  • In a Spiral TreatTray feeder on your APS Pole set up. Watch Blue Jays come and weigh each peanut. They will pick them up in their beak to check the weight and then make decisions accordingly. Blue Jays carry food in their throat and upper esophagus, an area referred to as the “gular pouch.” They may store 2-3 acorns in the pouch, another one in their mouth, and one more in the tip of the bill. With this adaptation, they can carry up to 5 acorns at once (or the equivalent size of other foods) and store it somewhere for later. 

  • Blue Jay eating unshelled peanuts. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

  • Sprinkle on your deck: Eastern Chipmunks and Eastern Cottontails also love unshelled peanuts, you'll be in for many cute visitors! Throughout the fall chipmunks are collecting food and filling their underground burrows with enough to last them the cold winter months, not emerging again until March. To learn more about chipmunk burrowing behavior, read our full blog on it here. 

Eastern Chipmunk filling it's cheek pouches with peanuts. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

Eastern Chipmunk and Eastern Cottontail eating unshelled peanuts together. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

Eastern Cottontail visiting for peanuts. Photo by Leanne Leblanc. 

  • Peanut Wreath: these feeders are meant to be filled with unshelled peanuts. Birds then come and have to manipulate the peanut through, offering up great viewing opportunities. 
Blue Jay at peanut wreath. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

Here's a game you can play with Jays: 

Get some unshelled peanuts. Either you can go the easy route and simply toss 10-15 onto your deck or grass and watch the Jays come and weigh each peanut. They will pick them up in their beak to check the weight and then make decisions accordingly. 

To test this theory further, try cutting a small opening in the shells and "stacking up" a couple of the shells to have more peanuts inside than the others, and therefore weigh more. This way as you watch, you know which shells weigh more and you can watch the Jays solve the puzzle. 

Shelled Peanuts

Many woodpeckers love an offering of shelled peanuts either in suet or on their own.

We offer multiple feeders that you can fill with shelled peanuts, including:
  • Acorn Feeder: this feeder is easy to stuff with shelled peanuts for backyard favourites such as nuthatches and chickadees as they brave the cold weather. They're truly 'nuts' for the extra energy.

  • In Tube Feeders: woodpeckers like this beautiful Red-bellied are a bit more skittish and love to fly in, grab a peanut, and take off with it, as opposed to feeding on site.
Red-bellied woodpecker with an unshelled peanut. Photo by Kristen Martyn. 

In short - there are a ton of ways to offer peanuts to your favourite backyard friends! They are a high quality food source as we are in a period of caching activity, heading into colder winter months. We offer both shelled and unshelled peanuts in store, add them on to your next order and see who you find in your yard.

Go nuts!!



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