Try a peanut feeder

Saforrest via WikiMedia Commons/Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license A blue jay with a peanut in its beak. Blue jays are among the many species of birds likely to visit a peanut feeder.

Once you try a peanut feeder your bird traffic will grow and your birds will become more loyal to your feeding station.

I have been feeding peanuts to the birds for decades and it’s been so enjoyable to see the many neat birds patronize it. Once the birds find the peanut feeder or realize what it is, you can practically hang it anywhere and the birds will come to it.

The peanuts that seem to work the best are raw shelled blanched peanuts whole or split. Raw peanuts are softer than roasted peanuts and thus are much easier for the birds to peck into smaller pieces and to digest. The peanut feeder needs to be made out of a wire mesh with holes that are big enough for the birds to pick small pieces of the peanuts out of the feeder, yet the holes have to be small enough so that the peanuts don’t fall out of the feeder.

It is good to have the birds work at the feeder to get their peanut pieces. While the bird is working on the peanut feeder you generally get a rather extended close-up look at the bird which is what we bird feeding enthusiasts want. If you like photographing the birds, the peanut feeder can give you great close-up opportunities.

Feeding peanuts can take your bird feeding experience to a new level. I have a few peanut feeders to accommodate several birds at once. It costs some money, but, like many of you, spending a little extra money on the birds is worth it. (So often I hear that “This is my hobby and I love feeding the birds!”) What a great feeling it is to provide food for the birds especially during the non-summer months. But feeding peanuts in summer is also great fun as the birds become quite brave and trusting to visit the feeder near you while you enjoy a cozy chair on the porch. It’s nice to see the adults bring their young for a treat.

The birds that like peanuts are numerous – probably all of them. But some birds aren’t very well adapted to clinging onto the feeder to extract them. Peanuts are a good substitute for seeds and for suet cakes which can get pretty gooey in the warmer months. Feeding peanuts is an easy and clean way to satisfy the birds.

If you aren’t used to feeding peanuts, you may be wondering which birds are the most likely to visit the peanut feeder. The list is long, but the most entertaining and interesting ones include several species of woodpeckers, both species of nuthatches, chickadees, tufted titmice, blue jays, and occasionally some others that learn how to hang on to the peanut feeder like house finches, rose-breasted grosbeaks, orioles, and others.

Unfortunately, some of the less desirable birds also like the peanuts. Right now, the grackle population is quite active at most any bird feeder but soon they will start forming flocks which will be more sporadic and eventually migrate. If your peanut feeder is close to your window, a tap on the window will easily spook the grackles away. Toward fall and winter and spring the peanut feeder becomes especially busy due to a reduced natural food supply. Currently, the robust action at the peanut feeder is due to a large avian population present right now.

Often, I have someone asking what they can do to improve their bird feeding success and the peanut feeder is just about always the first thing I mention. I recommend using a separate peanut feeder as it stretches the peanuts. In summer it’s best to store your peanuts in the freezer to keep them fresh.

So, if you want to have a little extra fun, try a peanut feeder. Some people only feed peanuts in summer. Often, we have trouble thinking of gift ideas for birthdays, Christmas, or whatever for friends and relatives who seem to have “everything.” Often, it’s been the simple inexpensive peanut feeder that has been a favorite gift.

Hans Kunze is an avid birder and nature enthusiast who has been writing about birds and nature for more than 30 years. He writes for the The Daily News twice each month. Write him at 6340 LaGrange Rd Wyoming, NY 14591 or call (585) 813-2676.

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