Going Nuts with Bird Peanuts?
You might be if you have been feeding wild birds in your garden with bird peanuts!
Birds love peanuts but so do squirrels. These crafty characters will go to extreme lengths to get their little claws on peanuts. They are also highly skilled at problem solving and will learn to overcome most of the measures that you put in place to deter them.
You may prefer it if these clever furry friends didn’t gobble up your bird peanuts. Squirrels can empty feeders with indecent haste and they can wreck them too. They may deter many birds from visiting your feeders which can be very disappointing if it is the birds that you wish to see.
So how do you put squirrels off? Well it isn’t easy but there are measures you can take which may or may not work. You can invest in a bird feeder with a guard around the food that affords access only to small birds. You can also use feeders which are spring loaded. Here the weight of the squirrel closes the feeding ports denying them access to the nuts. However, squirrels have been known to beat the system by putting some of their weight on branches, fences and adjacent feeders. Yes they are capable of working these things out! If you use a spring loaded feeder you will have to be careful where you put it.
Other squirrel deterrents include domes called baffles which can be attached to feeder poles and cause squirrels to fall off. Vaseline smeared on the pole will have a similar effect. You can also dust the food with chilli powder. The birds won’t be affected but the squirrels will be put off. Although as it turns out, people have discovered that some like it hot!
There is really no such thing as a squirrel proof bird feeders but you may be able to deter all but the most ingenious operators.
The Problem with Bird Peanuts
There is another issue with bird peanuts. These nuts are prone to contamination with aflatoxin. This is a potent liver toxin to which birds are susceptible. In order to ensure that your peanuts are safe you should buy only the highest quality nuts from a reliable source like Little Peckers. Then store the peanuts in a cool, dry place to prevent the mould growth which causes the contamination.
Peanuts are most appropriate for winter feeding. The cold conditions will prevent mould growth and this high protein, high fat food helps birds retain weight when they need it most to help fend off the cold. If you do feed peanuts then always use mesh feeders which prevent birds from taking whole nuts. These can be a choking hazard to small birds and chicks. Be particularly careful in breeding season. If the natural food supply is poor then birds may try to feed their young with nuts from your feeders.
Peanuts are a popular choice for feeding birds and there is no reason why you shouldn’t offer them. However, you must take care to purchase good quality nuts, to store them correctly and to use the right feeders.
Then you have to fend off the squirrels!