Can Birds Smell Peanut Butter? Exploring Sense of Smell in Birds

Yes, birds can smell peanut butter but it varies from species to species. There is some evidence that suggests that they can. 

It is important to note that not all birds are equally good at smelling. Some birds, such as homing pigeons, have a very well-developed sense of smell. 

Other birds, such as songbirds, have a less well-developed sense of smell. I included a video of a bird feeder with peanut butter and birds coming to eat. 

Nutritious Components of Peanut Butter

Peanut butter is a good source of protein, fat, and fiber. It is also a good source of vitamins and minerals, including vitamin E, magnesium, and phosphorus. Peanut butter is a healthy food for humans, and it is also a healthy food for birds.

Protein7 grams
Fat16 grams
Carbohydrates5 grams
Fiber2 grams
Vitamin E4 mg
Magnesium50 mg
Phosphorus100 mg

Myths About Peanut Butter to Birds

1. Peanut butter is a choking hazard for birds.

This is a common myth, but it is not entirely true. Peanut butter can be a choking hazard for birds, but only if it is not offered in a safe way. If you spread peanut butter on a pinecone or bird feeder, it is unlikely that birds will choke on it. 

However, if you offer peanut butter in a jar or on a piece of bread, it is more likely that birds will choke on it.

2. Peanut butter is unhealthy for birds.

This is also a common myth. Peanut butter is not unhealthy for birds, as long as it is offered in moderation. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and fat, which are essential nutrients for birds. 

However, it is important to avoid offering peanut butter that contains added salt or sugar, as these can be unhealthy for birds.

3. Peanut butter will attract squirrels and other pests.

This is a myth that is somewhat true. Peanut butter is a high-value food, so it will attract squirrels and other pests. However, there are ways to offer peanut butter to birds without attracting pests. 

For example, you can spread peanut butter on a pinecone or bird feeder that is inaccessible to squirrels.

Avian olfactory system

Birds have a less developed olfactory system compared to mammals. Recent studies have shown that birds can actually detect a wide variety of odors and that their olfactory system plays an important role in a variety of behaviors, such as food finding, mate selection, and navigation.

Olfactory receptors

The avian olfactory system is similar to the mammalian olfactory system in that it contains olfactory receptors that bind to specific odor molecules. However, birds have a much larger number of olfactory receptors than mammals, which gives them the ability to detect a wider range of odors.

The nasal cavity

The nasal cavity of birds is divided into three chambers: the anterior chamber, the middle chamber, and the posterior chamber. The anterior chamber is the largest chamber, and it is where the olfactory receptors are located.

Differences between avian and mammalian olfaction

Avian OlfactionMammalian Olfaction
Olfactory SystemOlfactory receptors located in nasal passagesOlfactory receptors located in nasal cavity
Olfactory BulbLess developed or absentWell-defined and prominent
FunctioningHighly reliant on the olfactory senseOlfactory receptors located in the nasal cavity
Sensory EmphasisVision and hearing play primary roles in survivalOlfactory sense plays a crucial role
NavigationReliance on other senses like vision for navigationOlfactory cues often used for navigation

Can Birds Smell Peanut Butter?

  • Lack of direct research: There is no direct research on whether or not birds can smell peanut butter. However, there is some research on birds’ general olfactory capabilities. This research suggests that birds can detect a wide range of odors, including those that are similar to the scent of peanut butter.
  • Reasoning based on birds’ general olfactory capabilities: The scent of peanut butter is a complex odor that is made up of a variety of different chemicals. It is likely that birds would be able to detect these chemicals and identify the scent of peanut butter.
  • Considering observations from bird owners and enthusiasts: Many bird owners and enthusiasts have reported that their birds are attracted to the scent of peanut butter. This suggests that birds are able to smell peanut butter and that they find the scent appealing.
  • Anecdotal evidence: There is also some anecdotal evidence that suggests that birds can smell peanut butter. For example, there are videos online of birds flocking to peanut butter feeders. Here is a video. 

How to Offer Peanut Butter to Backyard Birds

  • Spread peanut butter on a pinecone or bird feeder. This is a safe and effective way to offer peanut butter to birds.
  • Mix peanut butter with other bird-safe foods. This will make the peanut butter more appealing to birds and less likely to attract pests.
  • Offer peanut butter in a small dish or bowl. This will make it easier for birds to eat the peanut butter and less likely that they will choke on it.
  • Place the peanut butter in a shady spot. This will help to keep the peanut butter from melting in hot weather.

List of Birds That Eat Peanut Butter

  • Blue jays
  • Nuthatches
  • Woodpeckers
  • Chickadees
  • Titmice
  • Sparrows
  • Mourning doves
  • Goldfinches

How to make a bird feeder with peanut butter(Step-by-step guide)

Materials you will need:

  • Pinecones or empty toilet paper rolls
  • Peanut butter (preferably unsalted and without additives)
  • Birdseed
  • String or twine
  • Optional: dried fruits, nuts, or sunflower seeds for additional variety

Step 1: Prepare the pinecone or toilet paper roll

  • If using a pinecone, make sure it is clean and free of any debris. If using a toilet paper roll, ensure it is empty and clean.
  • Tie a piece of string or twine securely around the top of the pinecone or through the cardboard roll.

Step 2: Coat with peanut butter

  • Take a generous amount of peanut butter and spread it all over the surface of the pinecone or toilet paper roll. Use a butter knife or the back of a spoon to evenly coat it.
  • Ensure that the peanut butter covers the entire surface, as this will act as the adhesive for the bird seed.

Step 3: Apply birdseed

  • Pour birdseed into a shallow dish or plate.
  • Roll the peanut butter-coated pinecone or toilet paper roll in the birdseed, gently pressing the seeds into the peanut butter to ensure they stick.
  • Rotate and roll the feeder until the entire surface is covered with birdseed.

Step 4: Optional: Add extra treats

  • For added variety and nutrition, you can press dried fruits, nuts, or sunflower seeds onto the peanut butter-coated surface. These additional treats will attract a wider range of bird species.

Step 5: Hang the bird feeder

  • Choose a suitable location to hang your bird feeder, such as a tree branch or a hook outside a window.
  • Make sure the feeder is securely tied or hung to prevent it from falling.
  • Hang it at a height that is easily accessible for birds to reach.


Does peanut butter smell?

Yes, peanut butter does smell. The smell of peanut butter is a combination of the smell of peanuts and the smell of the oil that is used to make peanut butter. The smell of peanut butter is not harmful to birds, and it can actually be helpful in attracting them to your bird feeder.

Can parrots eat peanut butter?

Yes, parrots can eat peanut butter. Peanut butter is a good source of protein and fat for parrots, and it can be a healthy part of their diet. However, it is important to offer peanut butter to parrots in moderation, as too much peanut butter can be unhealthy.

What is the best peanut butter for birds?

There are some good options including natural peanut butter, peanut butter without salt, and peanut butter with added seeds.

Do hummingbirds eat peanut butter?

Hummingbirds do not eat peanut butter. They are nectarivorous, which means that they eat nectar from flowers. Peanut butter is not a natural food source for hummingbirds, and it can be harmful to them if they eat too much of it.

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