What Nuts Can Birds Eat? – Animalwho

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Birds love munching on nuts for the healthy fats, plant protein, vitamins, and calories they provide. Offering birds a variety of raw, unsalted nuts can attract more colorful species to your backyard. But which nuts make the best bird food? Here’s an in-depth guide to the best nuts for birds and how to feed them properly.

Why Nuts Make Ideal Bird Foods

What Nuts Can Birds Eat
What Nuts Can Birds Eat

Nuts offer important nutritional benefits for birds:

  • They are packed with energy from healthy fats and plant-based proteins. The high fat content in nuts provides birds with the fatty acids they need for energy and maintaining healthy skin and feathers. The protein aids in muscle maintenance and growth.
  • Nuts are a high-calorie food source, making them excellent nutrition for birds, especially in winter when food is scarce and birds need more calories to maintain body heat. Just a single peanut or almond contains about 10 calories.
  • Nuts contain a wealth of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that are vital to avian health. These include vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, zinc, iron and B vitamins.
  • Nuts provide variety from seeds in bird diets and expand the types of foods birds can forage. This is important as different birds have different beak types and nutritional needs.

The high fat and protein content,dense calories, and wealth of vitamins and minerals make nuts an ideal food for attracting backyard birds and supplementing their diet. Nuts help meet birds’ high energy needs while providing essential nutrients.

The Top Nuts for Birds

Certain nuts make especially good bird feed due to their nutrition profile, texture, and the birds they attract. Here are some of the best nuts to offer:


Peanuts are one of the most popular nuts offered to backyard birds. They are nutritionally dense, widely enjoyed by many species, and easy to serve.

  • Purchase raw, human-grade peanuts still in the shell or shelled. Avoid flavored, salted or fried peanuts.
  • Peanuts can be served whole, chopped into pieces, as a creamy peanut butter, or ground into meal. This makes them accessible for birds of all sizes.
  • Chickadees, titmice, woodpeckers, jays, nuthatches, wrens, starlings, grackles, and mourning doves are some birds that love peanuts.

Tree Nuts

Tree nuts like almonds, walnuts and pecans also make excellent bird foods. They are packed with healthy fats, plant protein, and calories.

  • Try offering chopped or halved tree nuts in feeders for smaller birds. Larger birds can handle whole tree nuts.
  • Nuthatches, chickadees, woodpeckers and jays readily eat these tree nuts.

Hazelnuts and Acorns

Hazelnuts and acorns are two nuts that grow naturally in many backyards and wilderness areas, providing free bird food.

  • Hazelnuts are surrounded by a soft outer shell that ripens and falls to the ground in autumn. Birds like jays will cache them to eat later.
  • Acorns also naturally fall to the ground in autumn and are favorites of jays, woodpeckers and wild turkeys.

There’s no need to shell or chop hazelnuts and acorns. These nuts offer natural foraging opportunities.

Nutrition Benefits of Nuts for Birds

what nuts can birds eat?
what nuts can birds eat?

Beyond being an excellent source of energy and calories, nuts also provide many specific nutrients that are important for avian health:

  • Healthy Unsaturated Fats – Nuts contain plant-based monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. These provide usable energy for birds and keep feathers and skin supple and healthy.
  • Protein – The protein in nuts helps maintain muscle mass and aids growing birds. Peanuts and tree nuts are about 25% protein.
  • Vitamin E – Nuts are packed with vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant. This helps protect birds’ cells from damage.
  • Magnesium – Nuts provide magnesium, which birds need for bone health and enzyme function.
  • Manganese – Manganese supports bone development and metabolism. Tree nuts are very high in manganese.
  • Zinc – Zinc assists with immune function and feather growth. Nuts provide small amounts of this mineral.
  • B Vitamins – Nuts contain B vitamins like niacin, pyridoxine, and folic acid which birds need for energy metabolism.
  • Iron – Small amounts of iron in nuts helps birds produce healthy blood cells.
  • Calories – The high calorie content of nuts provides excellent energy for birds to maintain body heat and activity levels.

Thanks to their stellar nutritional profile, nuts are excellent sources of energy, protein, healthy fats, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants for birds.

How to Offer Nuts to Birds

Follow these tips for successfully feeding birds nuts:

  • Select Unsalted, Raw Nuts – Heavily salted or flavored nuts can be unhealthy for birds. Stick to raw, unseasoned nuts.
  • Shell Peanuts and Smaller Tree Nuts – Birds like chickadees can’t open whole peanuts or tree nuts. Shell them or offer chopped.
  • Chop Large Nuts – Some birds can’t swallow large pieces. Chop hazelnuts, almonds and other large nuts into smaller bits.
  • Use Nut Feeders – Platform, hopper and tube feeders with large ports or mesh bottoms are great for serving nuts.
  • Smear with Peanut Butter – Smearing peanut butter on feeder perches, pinecones or the bark of trees attracts birds.
  • Sprinkle on the Ground – Tossing some nuts on the ground lets ground feeding birds like jays access them.
  • Offer Nuts Year-Round – While nuts are especially appreciated in winter, consider offering them year-round for nutritional variety.

With some preparation and the right feeders, you can easily offer nutritious nuts that will attract an array of beautiful backyard birds. Think unsalted, shelled, chopped, and offered in multiple ways.

Common Nut-Loving Backyard Birds

birds can eat nuts
birds can eat nuts

Many species of birds are attracted to nuts. Here are some of the most common backyard birds that love to eat nuts:

  • Chickadees – These tiny acrobats love shelled sunflower seeds and chopped peanuts. Handfeeding them is a joy.
  • Titmouse – Tufted titmice eat black oil sunflower seeds, suet, peanuts, and chopped nuts.
  • Nuthatches – White and red-breasted nuthatches enjoy suet, peanuts, and shelled sunflower seeds.
  • Woodpeckers – Like downy woodpeckers eat suet, black oil sunflower seeds, and shelled peanuts from feeders.
  • Jays – From blue jays to Steller’s jays, these noisy birds gobble up peanuts, acorns, sunflower seeds, and suet.
  • Crows – American crows are intelligent birds that eat peanuts, cracked nuts and scrambled eggs.
  • Mockingbirds – These clever mimics eat berries, fruits, seeds, and occasional nuts and mealworms.
  • Starlings – European starlings eat suet, peanuts, cracked corn, millet, sunflower seeds, and mealworms.
  • Sparrows – House sparrows enjoy white proso millet, nyjer thistle, sunflower chips, and some nuts.

With such a wide variety of birds that love to eat them, nuts are a great way to diversify the types of birds visiting your yard.

Offer Nutritious Nuts for Backyard Birds

Nuts are nutritionally dense foods that provide birds with essential fatty acids, plant-based proteins, vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and calories. They make an excellent addition to backyard bird feeders and should be offered year-round.

The best nuts for birds include peanuts, almonds, walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts and acorns. Look for raw, unsalted varieties and shell or chop them for smaller birds. Use nut feeders or incorporate nuts into peanut butter smears, suet mixes and scattered ground feedings.

With their stellar nutrition profile, nuts help meet birds’ high energy needs while supporting overall health. They attract beloved chickadees, woodpeckers, titmice, jays, nuthatches and more to your yard. Follow this guide to select the healthiest nuts and feed them properly to create a bird feeding haven.


What are the best nuts to feed birds?

The top nuts for birds include peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts, walnuts, pecans, and acorns. Go for raw, unsalted varieties and avoid heavily seasoned nuts.

Should nuts for birds be shelled or unshelled?

It’s best to shell peanuts and smaller nuts like almonds to make it easier for small birds to eat them. Larger nuts can be offered whole.

Why are peanuts such a good nut for birds?

Peanuts are energy dense, packed with protein, popular with many bird species, and easy to serve in a variety of ways including whole, chopped, as peanut butter, or meal.

How should large nuts be prepared for bird feeding?

Large nuts like almonds, walnuts and hazelnuts should be chopped or broken into smaller pieces so birds can eat them. Shelling them also allows access.

What are the best nuts for small birds like chickadees?

Small birds can’t handle large nuts or seeds. Go for shelled, chopped peanuts, almond slivers, halved walnuts, sunflower chips and nyjer thistle.

How do you offer whole nuts and acorns to birds?

Place large nuts like hazelnuts and acorns in platform feeders or directly on the ground for ground feeding birds like jays and crows.

Can birds choke on whole nuts and seeds?

Place large nuts like hazelnuts and acorns in platform feeders or directly on the ground for ground feeding birds like jays and crows.

Can birds choke on whole nuts and seeds?

Yes, whole nuts and large seeds can pose a choking risk for some birds. Always shell or chop nuts for small birds.

How do nuts help birds nutritionally?

Nuts provide birds with protein, healthy fats, calories, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. The calories help sustain birds in winter.

Should nuts be offered to birds year-round?

Yes, nuts can be offered to birds throughout the year for nutritional variety. But they are especially appreciated in winter when calories are vital.

What are the best bird feeders for nuts?

Platform feeders, hoppers, and tube feeders with large ports or mesh bottoms allow nuts to easily pass through. Suet cages also work.

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