Seeing squirrels in parks has always been fun for me. With their cute faces and long furry tails, their antics have never ceased to amaze me. But seeing them like that, I never seemed to realize just how varied their diet is.
Yes, they are mostly seen eating peanuts and little tidbits of leftover food but did you know that squirrels also eat meat? So do squirrels eat bird eggs or baby birds and other small animals?
Yes, squirrels eat bird eggs and baby birds as well.
Do squirrels steal eggs?
Yes, squirrels often steal bird eggs.
Bird eggs form an essential and highly nutritious part of a squirrel’s diet. So, if a squirrel gets an opportunity, it will steal bird eggs from the nest and most probably eat them.
In fact, it is common to see squirrels raiding bird eggs and even stealing eggs from chicken coops.
Do squirrels attack baby birds? Will they eat them?
Yes, squirrels do attack and eat baby birds.
Squirrels are omnivores, which means they eat plants as well as meat. This includes everything from seeds and fruits to insects and yes, baby birds.
During the nestling stage, the chicks are absolutely helpless. So, if a squirrel finds a nest with chicks and without the parent birds, it will eat the baby chicks.
These baby birds provide a large amount of protein to the squirrels.
What else do squirrels eat?
Squirrels are not picky eaters. They eat almost everything they can easily find from seeds and flowers to insects and eggs.
These small furry animals are omnivores and have a natural appetite for fruits and vegetables, nuts, flowers, fungi, and even insects and small animals available in their habitat.
Squirrels are curious animals and close contact with humans means that they are exposed to a lot of unnatural food. This may be food which humans feed them or that which they find littered or in trash cans.
As a result, squirrels also develop appetites for foods like bread, sugary snacks, old lunch meat, chips, etc.
They also tend to whisk away bits of dog/cat/bird food and eat them. So it can be concluded that these little creatures are extremely adaptable and can eat almost anything!
Why do squirrels steal bird eggs?
General feeding behavior:
Squirrels eat bird eggs because according to their general feeding behavior, they can be called ‘opportunistic foragers’ which means their survival strategy includes seizing every possible opportunity to acquire food, and this includes bird eggs.
Rich source of nutrients:
Bird eggs also serve as a rich dietary supplement for squirrels, being a food loaded with fat, protein, and minerals. Hence some benefits from eating eggs may include:
- Pregnant females or lactating mothers have extra dietary needs and eggs are a nutrient-dense source of protein and fats which can help fuel the mothers.
- Bird eggs can help to supplement minerals like calcium, phosphorus, or nitrogen which squirrels may not get from other local food sources.
- Squirrels may take advantage of a nest full of eggs if there is a lack of other food due to seasonal changes.
- Eggs may be an easily available food source in some habitats.
A biological and evolutionary trait
It can also be said that squirrels are rodents and very similar in biology to rats. And it is no secret that rats love to steal eggs from places such as chicken coops.
Just like rats, squirrels also steal eggs from such places.
Just for fun?
An interesting fact is that squirrels love to steal. It is a part of daily life for them.
An interesting study was undertaken to check how much food squirrels were stealing from other members of their species.
They found that even after storing enough food for winter, squirrels still went on to steal almost 100% of their food comes from other squirrels!
It was also found that these cute furry mammals stole an average of 25% of the cones they ate from other squirrels!
So it is possible that the furry creatures steal eggs just because of the habit of stealing
Do squirrels eat grown birds too?
It does not happen very often, but yes, squirrels do eat grown birds.
Squirrels eat whatever they can easily find. If other food sources become scarce, they may even attack and eat grown birds.
Can birds protect themselves from squirrels?
Yes, of course, birds can protect themselves from squirrels.
Birds are intelligent and if they detect a predator, they will take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their young.
This includes keeping their distance, making loud alarm calls, and even pecking and attacking the predators like squirrels if they get too close.
Which Birds Are Most At Risk From Squirrels? Which bird’s eggs do squirrels eat the most?
The birds with the following characteristics may be at higher risk from squirrels:
- Those birds that make nests in areas with a high population density of squirrels.
- Those birds that make their nests on the ground in open areas with less cover.
- Birds whose nests are in the forks of high trees – this makes the nests easier for squirrels to find.
- Birds which build nests in areas that have fewer sources of food for squirrels.
Which squirrels eat birds or bird eggs?
Almost every type of squirrel can hunt and steal bird eggs. This includes:
- Grey Squirrels
- Red Squirrels
- Flying Squirrels
- Douglas Squirrels
- Ground Squirrels
Do squirrels eat bird seeds?
Yes, squirrels love to eat birdseed as it is an easily available food source.
They also love nuts, sunflower seeds, fruit, and corn but they don’t eat everything that birds eat. They do not eat foods such as safflower seed, nyjer seed, and white proso millet.
How can I stop squirrels from eating bird seeds?
It may be disappointing to see squirrels eating up all your birdseed and it will definitely cost you a lot because squirrels tend to hoard and eat in large quantities.
Luckily, there are many simple ways to keep squirrels from eating birdseed.
- Invest in a squirrel-proof bird feeder. These have poles that squirrels can not climb.
- Place bird feeders away from trees because squirrels can jump straight from trees to the feeders.
- You can add hot pepper to the birdseed. A compound called capsaicin is present in peppers and it causes the sensation of spice. But this phenomenon does not affect birds, only mammals. So the squirrels will not want to eat it!
- Feed squirrels separately. Invest in separate squirrel feeders. If they are full, they will not hoard birdseed.
- Keep food such as safflower seed, nyjer seed, and white proso millet. Birds eat them but squirrels do not.
How do I keep squirrels from eating my bird eggs?
Simply, a squirrel can not eat eggs if it cannot reach them. You can take simple steps to squirrel proof your birdhouses so they won’t be able to reach the eggs.
How do you squirrel proof a birdhouse?
- One of the easiest ways to prevent squirrels from entering your birdhouses is to make the entrances smaller. Squirrels are larger than most birds and so they won’t be able to enter the house while the bird will.
- Attach a squirrel baffle to your birdhouse. These block a squirrel’s path to the birdhouse.
- Feed the squirrels separately. If they are full, they won’t need to eat eggs.
- DON’T use squirrel poison. Though they may be annoying, do not kill them. There are simpler ways to get rid of them.
Why do squirrels eat birds?
Squirrels are opportunistic feeders which means they will eat almost anything they can find easily. This includes birds and their eggs. Additionally, these are rich in protein, fat, and nutrients.
Do squirrels eat chicken eggs?
Yes. Squirrels stealing eggs from chicken coops is a surprisingly common phenomenon. These furry creatures steal and eat the eggs.
Do squirrels eat duck eggs?
Yes. If it gets a chance, a squirrel will not pass on the opportunity to raid a duck’s nest.
Do red squirrels eat bird eggs?
Yes. Red squirrels have a greater tendency to eat meat than other squirrels. They eat birds, their eggs and can be extremely destructive.
Do grey squirrels eat birds?
Yes. Both grey squirrels and chipmunks are known to raid nests and steal eggs and eat baby birds. They usually do not eat adult birds unless they are dead.
Do black squirrels eat birds or their eggs?
Yes. Like all other squirrels, black squirrels have opportunistic feeding behavior and they will eat baby birds and bird eggs.
Do flying squirrels eat birds and bird eggs?
Yes. Flying squirrels live in trees in forests. They usually eat fruits, berries, nuts, and vegetation but also eat insects, birds, and bird eggs.
Though squirrels are extremely cute to look at and do make great additions to your backyard, their presence may start to annoy you when they disrupt the serene birdlife.
These furry creatures are known to cause stress to birds as they steal their food, eat bird eggs and baby birds and even eat adult birds sometimes.
But you don’t have to worry! There are a series of simple solutions which can ensure that you, the birds, and the squirrels can live in perfect harmony!