[Tweeters] Jays, Crows and Peanuts

ravenintherain ccorax at blarg.net
Sun Nov 18 23:55:26 PST 2007

Robert Pisano wrote:

> Just as for people, too much salt isn't good for you (or them).

> Remember, too, that these birds are but a tiny fraction of our body

> mass, and that would translate into a disproportionately high

> percentage of a substance that is not naturally occurring in their

> diets. Not to worry, though, as the unsalted variety is readily

> available. We don't put Pepsi in their birdbaths, after all.




> On Nov 17, 2007, at 7:07 PM, ravenintherain wrote:


Having struggled through the myths that we should not feed bread to
ducks because it clogs up their guts or throw rice at weddings because
the birds eat it and explode, I am now skeptical about all unsupported
statements regarding the feeding of wild birds. While I am sure that we
should not force birds into over-consuming salt, is there any actual
evidence that salted peanuts are damaging to them? Salt is a natural
and necessary element in bird diets as in mammal diets. In many
situations wild animals are in pretty constant salt deficit and are avid
for it when they can get it, as I've earned over the years when I have
hung up a sweaty bandanna or t-shirt while camping and had to retrieve
it from the maw of a salt-hungry deer. Are urban birds over-exposed to
salt? I don't know.

In the book I depend on most for feeding advice, Sally Roth's _The
Backyard Bird Feeder's Bible_ (Rodale, 2000), Ms. Roth says that many
birds like to come to salt blocks. Here is a quote from the "Salt"
entry in the book:

/Just like people, birds have different preferences
when it comes to adding salt to their diet. Some like
to eat it straight, while others can get along fine
without even a sprinkling. The easiest way to feed salt
is with a long-lasting salt block, available at
feed stores for just a few dollars. House finches will be
your best customer for salt, but buntings, doves,
purple finches, goldfinches, jays, pigeons, pine siskins,
house sparrows, and other birds also partake of the

/I have a strong suspicion that birds can pretty well take care of
themselves and won't obsessively eat things that aren't good for them in
the way that humans do. I would sure like to hear if there is any
scientific evidence about this. In the little bit of Web research I did
on the topic I came upon the following entertaining quiz from the Iowa
Extension Service. The author of the quiz also says we shouldn't offer
birds salted peanuts, but I have no idea what he really knows. Here's
the link: http://www.extension.iastate.edu/Quiz/Quiz4/

BTW, the birds around my place love their Pepsi baths, its so spritzy
and refreshing; but their real preference is for milk baths. Good for
the feathers? ;-)>

Yours in Tweeterness,


Dale Chase
(AKA ravenintherain)
Seattle, Washington
ccorax at blarg.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list