POTD: The Peanut Butter Challenge

The Peanut Butter Challenge
Bozeman, Montana
2021

I read somewhere that a good way to attract certain songbirds was to smear peanut butter between the scales of a pine cone and hang it from a tree. So I tried that. To keep magpies and other large birds from devouring the treat, I purposely hung the cone from a flimsy end branch of the cottonwood tree next to our house and several feet away from the nearby fence. So far we’ve not seen any of the birds we were hoping to see but it has attracted a lot of attention from robins, crows, ravens, and especially magpies.

It looked like that was going to work for a while but several determined magpies studied the arrangement for a long time and tried several different ways of getting at the peanut butter until they finally figured out a way to get at it. They take a flying leap from the fence or a nearby tree branch, hit the pine cone with their feet while at the same time quickly taking a peck at the peanut butter. The energy they can get from the little bit of peanut butter that ends up on their beaks each time hardly seems worth the energy it takes to get at it. But they keep doing it over and over again so must feel it’s worth it. I imagine one of these days one of them will figure out that they should just attack the string until they cut it and the pine cone falls to the ground. Then they will be in for a real feast.