Picking Peanuts

Recently I’ve removed the safflower and sunflower feeders, as the finch eye disease has appeared in our neighborhood in several House Finches and I don’t want to assist in its spread. Poor little finches. House Finch eye disease, a conjunctivitis which eventually causes blindness, is caused by Mycoplasma gallisepticum and is a known problem for some kinds of birds who feed at feeders, primarily types of finches. (Check out the highlighted link above for more information about this disease.) Because the House Finches rarely eat peanuts, I’m leaving my two peanut feeders up and filled for the backyard bird visitors’ eating pleasure. For what it’s worth, my garden has scads of giant sunflowers and there’s no shortage of seeds for those who partake. I’ve observed House Finches, House Sparrows, Carolina Wrens, doves–and squirrels–hanging out amongst the sunflowers, nibbling this and noshing that. I’m sorry that the disease is spreading in my neighborhood, but with the sunflowers in bloom for the pollinators and seeding out for the birds and beasts, it’s a good time to remove the feeders and let birds feed like they’re supposed to–on plants which provide nourishment.

While I’m missing the cute House Finches close-up at the feeders, other resident birds are active and worth the watching. Downy Woodpeckers like this mature female, are always ready for peanuts. They are often the first to show up most mornings.

Her back and tail feathers show a beautiful pattern.

The local male (mate of the above female?) is darling with a bit of peanut in his beak and topped by his red hat.

The Downy Woodpeckers aren’t the only woodpeckers who love peanuts. Red-bellied Woodpeckers are also fond of the legume. This female is stunning with her bright red head and her stripey black-n-white wings.

The most vocal of the neighborhood songbirds are Carolina Wrens. After singing, this one captured its treasure and dashed to a secluded spot for a quick snack.

Carolina Chickadees come and go in my garden. Right now, a male and female and their offspring are regulars at the peanut feeders.

Always, there are Blue Jays. These guys and gals enjoy all the feeder offerings, but like so many birds, snarf peanuts with glee. This juvenile got a chance at one of the feeders without any pushy adults bullying him.

I have two feeders for shelled peanuts and a ceramic pot (which was supposed to be for a plant) for unshelled peanuts. Mostly the jays and the squirrels snatch these treats, but sometimes I see a Great-tailed Grackle or a Red-bellied Woodpecker snatching a prize. I put the unshelled peanuts out first thing in the mornings; once the peanuts are gone, the birds have to wait until the next day for more of these yummies.

Like the Carolina Wrens, the Black-crested Titmice come and go at the feeders, with the summer months being a big time for feeding. This is a parent and a fledgling sharing a meal.

As summer progresses and the bird families are grown up and mostly out of the nest, eating at the feeders slows a bit. For the next six weeks or so, it’s mostly the usual suspects in the garden. By late August, there will be whispers of migratory bird activity and after flights south, the winter warblers will settle in. During those times, peanuts will remain the flavor of the months.

19 thoughts on “Picking Peanuts

  1. Your pictures are delightful and what a variety of birds! My Mom took down her regular feeder this spring and just supplies a daily cup of unshelled peanuts. She also puts out a suet cake and gets plenty of birds with it. I stopped feeding the birds when house sparrows showed up to take over my blue bird house. Too much drama!

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    • Thanks! I think I’m fortunate to live in a leafy neighborhood where birds are happy! I put suet out in the cooler months, but it’s too hot here during summer for that! House Sparrows are pests!! That said, I have more problems with Starlings, so I guess I’m lucky (?)!

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      • I’m in NW Florida and we buy “no melt suet cakes”. We keep them in the fridge then pop one in the mesh cage to put out. I’m not sure I’ve even seen a Starling!!

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  2. Your really captured some great photos again. I have the same birds visiting, but I do not put peanuts out as I have too many squirrels. I always seem to have a pair of Carolina Wrens and I’ll be posting a little story soon.

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  3. Had no idea all of these birds liked peanuts! I must try this as a break from black oil sunflower seeds that quickly pile up shells.

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  4. Great captures, Tina. I’m sorry to read about the Finch eye disease that is occurring. Smart of you to take your feeders in and give them a good bleaching. Hopefully, others will do the same.

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    • Thanks, Eliza. I feel for the little finches and I miss their chattering. They’re around and I see them at the sunflowers, but it’s nice to watch them from the windows. Still, it’s better to leave the feeders down for a time and see if that helps. I still need to bleach the feeders, ugh.

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  5. We have many of the same birds. Most years, I wouldn’t be able to say Carolina Wrens because we’re just beyond their normal range here. But this year, we seem to have a nesting pair…and I hear the male often during the day. He’s particularly vocal at dawn and dusk. 😉 Cute little birds, for sure. I took down our feeders, too, There’s a terrible disease of unknown origin affecting birds in the Eastern part of the country, and possibly as far West as Wisconsin. https://bit.ly/3ksJZUk The state Audubon Society has suggested that we take down our feeders, since there’s plenty of other food around this time of year.

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    • Wow, I would have thought you’re too far north for the wrens! I love them, but they can be noisy first thing in the morning. 🙂

      I have in-laws in NJ who’ve taken their feeders down because of the disease. You’re wise to do so. Poor birds, they can’t catch a break.

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  6. I had no idea that the wrens, chickadees, and bluejays would visit a peanut feeder. I stopped using mine because no one seemed to visit it. Perhaps too much was available elsewhere! Maybe I’ll give it another try — along with scattering some on the ground for the squirrels. Now that they’re growing up, the squirrels kids aren’t quite so pushy, but “quite” is the operative word!

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    • Yes, they love peanuts! I haven’t seen Cardinals at the peanuts too often, but they’re still coming in the garden for something, so at least I get my Cardinal fix.

      The squirrels start chilling out about this time of year; juveniles aren’t “quite” as pushy, adults have only themselves to feed. We can all relax.:)

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  7. I may have mentioned that when I was a teenager my mother rescued an injured blue jay and kept it in our house. I even showed it off in my ninth-grade biology class. I no longer remember what my mother fed it.

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