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What is the Controversy about Feeding Peanut Butter to Birds?

The Internet is full of information and misinformation about using peanut butter to feed birds.  Some information suggests that straight peanut butter can be too sticky for smaller birds to process.  Other sites will tell you it is perfectly safe.  What do you need to know?

Peanut butter off the shelf is not all peanut butter.   To improve the taste, all kinds of things are added. What may be “OK” for humans may not be safe for birds.  Birds are very small by comparison.   Smaller birds can weigh in at just 10-30 grams.  A 125 pound person is 56,700 grams.  Some birds are 2000 times smaller by mass.  What is listed as safe for humans cannot be used to determine bird health too.

One particular ingredient stands out - salt.   Salt is not an item birds will consume in any amounts naturally.   Research on salt toxicity reported in chickens and ducks, birds much larger than songbirds, shows clearly that their diet should not contain more than 0.25% salt.  That is not very much!  With smaller birds, this percentage may be less.  This illustrates clearly that birds are not mammals!

The other ingredients often found with commercial peanut butter are not found in the wild, so it is important not to feed birds unnatural chemicals because we do not have any idea what effect it may on birds.  


Peanut Butter Jar



In addition to the additives typically placed into commercial peanut butter, offering opening jars of food to birds is not a good idea either.  Bird droppings finding its way into the jars will help facilitate the transfer of diseases.

For a safe alternative to peanut butter, Wild Birds Unlimited has developed Bark Butter products.  Its ingredients include roasted peanuts, corn, suet, calcium carbonate and soy bean oil.   Bark Butter produces a superior texture for birds to enjoy, and when applied to the side of trees or used with commercial Bark Butter feeders, a safe and enjoyable means for the birds too, and you to enjoy.

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Bark Butter Tub

Woodpecker on bark butter
Wild Birds Unlimited Madison