POTD: The Peanut Butter Challenge

The Peanut Butter Challenge
Bozeman, Montana

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.

4 thoughts on “POTD: The Peanut Butter Challenge”

    1. Thanks Kathy. And yes, I added the background from my collection of textures etc. I’ve gathered over the years for when I do composite photographs.

  1. Stephen+Johnson

    I agree with Kathy, nice composition. We have a hanging suet feeder that we hang an old flower hanging basket upside down over so that there are slits to attract birds. The little birds can fly underneath and hang on to the suet feeder while the larger birds are left to hang upside down from the “protective bell” and get what they can. They are quite acrobatic and serves the purpose of chipping the suet feeder apart, with the falling seeds going to the ground where big and little birds fight over the spoils. It seems to make the feeder last longer and tends to spread the wealth.

    1. Thanks Steve. I just hung a hunk of suet in a chicken wire cage in our yard yesterday. I expect it to be devoured by magpies pretty quickly. If so, I’ll have to try an arrangement like yours next time. Feeding some birds and not feeding others (not to mention not feeding squirrels, bears and other critters) is a tough job sometimes and the birdseed bills can get pretty high, but it’s a pretty worthwhile effort given the entertainment value. We spend a lot of time watching the goings on around our feeders.

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