Who Eats Peanuts?

Adapted from the October/November 2018 Bird’s-Eye View Newsletter. Article by guest contributor MELISSA BLOCK.


Often our customers, seeing our open barrels of peanuts (In-Shell Peanuts and Peanut Pickouts), ask us which birds eat peanuts? Actually, there’s a long list of birds that love peanuts:

  • Jays
  • Woodpeckers
  • Cardinals
  • Chickadees
  • Nuthatches
  • Crows
  • Ravens
  • Towhees

Peanuts Are Not Actually Nuts

They are legumes (like peas, soybeans and lentils). Peanuts are high in fat and protein, which means they are an excellent source of energy and calories. They are easy for birds to hide and store for another day.

Irresistible to Blue Jays

Offering In-shell Peanuts will always attract Blue Jays. It’s fun to watch jays pick out a peanut when served in an open tray. They may pick up a couple of different peanuts, seemingly weighing each one and flying off with the best. Jays can also store one peanut in their expandable throat pouch and take another peanut to eat or store. Jays seem to announce to other Jays that peanuts are being served and soon there are more Jays taking turns grabbing a peanut.

Precision Pecking: Red-bellied Woodpeckers

Red-bellied Woodpeckers also like In-shell Peanuts, but most often they will stay at the feeder to peck open the shell and then fly away with the peanut.

Shelled Peanuts/Peanut Pickouts Attract Smaller Birds

Peanuts served out of the shell are easier for birds to eat, especially smaller birds. Peanut Pickouts allow a greater variety of birds to eat them since they don’t have to expend the energy it takes to remove them from the shell. Northern Cardinals, Black-capped Chickadees and White-breasted Nuthatches are most often seen eating Peanut Pickouts.