Encyclopaedia of Birdcare
PeanutsNot really nuts, but actually pulses, peanuts are grown in many subtropical regions and show a wide variation in type and quality. Some are not only poor in food value, but may even contain dangerously high levels of the chemical aflatoxin. For this reason peanuts are best purchased in bulk from specialised dealers in foods for birds who are able to guarantee their quality. Peanuts for feeding birds are available in the following forms:
- Peanuts in their shells (monkey nuts). This is not a good method of provision for birds, as the shells need to be threaded on a string for hanging, they do not last long before replacements are needed, pieces of shell litter the ground below, and whole peanuts pose a choking hazard to nestlings.
- Shelled whole peanuts. These should be offered in mesh-type feeders at least during the breeding season, so that there is no risk of nestlings being choked. The soft red nylon bags containing whole peanuts seem to be particularly attractive to Siskins.
- Peanut pieces. These avoid the choking hazard, and so they can be fed in feeders of any type and also on seed trays.
- Peanut nibs or granules. These tiny bits of peanut actually represent the point of germination of the seed, and so they are highly nutritious. They are particularly suitable for birds which feed naturally on beechmast, such as some tits and finches. Not suitable for feeders, they should be offered on seed trays, bird tables or suchlike.
Peanuts are rich in proteins and oils, and are therefore particularly valuable as food for birds, attracting all members of the tit family, Greenfinches, house Sparrows, nuthatches, Siskins and even woodpeckers. They are often included in commercially available seed mixtures.
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