Bird Watcher's General Store

Peanut Butter Okay for Birds - 03/02/01


Dear Bird Folks,

Is it okay to feed birds peanut butter? I've heard that birds have trouble swallowing peanut butter and could choke. I'm worried that I might be harming the birds. Is it safe to use?

- Marie, Chatham

Yes Marie,

Peanut butter is safe to use. Every once in a while this question pops up and I'm not really sure where it comes from. I've never found a dead bird with a PB&J sandwich clutched in its claws. And I have yet to hear of anyone who had to Heimlich a nuthatch. Although I did see a guy give mouth-to-beak resuscitation to a cardinal once, but that was at a party.

Remember, birds don't take the same size bites that an adult human would. They take small little pecks that they can easily manage to swallow. Just like you probably take smaller bites than someone like Mike Tyson or Oprah.

Peanut butter is popular. I think every Boy or Girl Scout on the planet has had to smear a pine cone with peanut butter and then roll it around in bird seed to earn some kind of merit badge. Most feeder birds like peanut butter. And since birds have a poor sense of taste, you can use the good stuff that they sell at the health food store or that five-gallons-for-a-nickel brown goo that you find at Warehouse World.

So use all the peanut butter you want, Marie, the birds will be fine. If you hear any choking at all this summer, it won't be the birds - it will more likely be the Boston Red Sox.



Artwork by Catherine Clark


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