Over the past years, many wild bird species have witnessed a decline in abundance the world over. The decline, to a larger part, is accredited to the destruction of their natural habitat due to human encroachment. However, many hold the idea that opportunistic animals that prey on birds and their eggs have significantly impacted the depletion of the birds’ population.
One animal that has generated more heat than light is the squirrel. It is an extremely active medium-sized rodent that likes to forage for food and water. There is a wide debate among avid birders over whether squirrels eat bird eggs and birds and play a role in suppressing the avian numbers.
How so? Well, here is all you need to know as far as squirrels eating birds and their eggs goes.
Do squirrels eat bird eggs or baby birds?
Yes! Squirrels do feed on bird eggs and baby birds.
Primarily, the first choice of food for squirrels is plant matter. The rodents have a liking for seeds, fruits, nuts, roots, leaves, cones, lichens, and mushrooms among others. Even so, whenever there is a shortage of food and the supply is strained, the opportunistic rodents will not hesitate to feast on whatever food comes their way. Among them, are baby birds, bird eggs, grubs, insects, beetles, and more.
What do squirrels eat?
Naturally, squirrels are foragers that will leap at the chance to take a bite on pretty much any edible they come across. Even so, the rodents’ main diet consists of seeds, fruits, nuts, twigs, roots, leaves, cones, lichens, and mushrooms among others
Occasionally, the creepy little guy, will sneak into your backyard and eat the food you may have left for the birds that visit your backyard. But, whenever an opportunity presents itself, squirrels will not think twice about using their sharp claws to pounce on birds, young rats, and mice.
What kind of eggs do squirrels eat?
The main victim of these nest raiding rodents is bird species that nest in woodlands and conifers. Squirrels commonly poach eggs from nests of most songbirds among them are the common starlings, thrushes, wood pigeons, wrens, jays, woodpeckers, chickadees, warblers, and finches.
The rodents try as much as possible to avoid putting up a fight with parent birds which normally, will fiercely defend their eggs or young ones. So, to make for easy targets, they will snatch an egg or grab the juveniles from unattended bird nests. Besides that, the nimble rodents prefer snacking on weak or dead birds.
Why do squirrels eat birds’ eggs?
But why should squirrels put their safety in the line and invade bird nests to grab their eggs or hatchlings?
- As with other wild animals, squirrels will do whatever it takes to survive. They are nimble and active creatures that require sufficient food. They usually bury their food in holes reserve holes in preparation for winter when the food supply is limited. But should there be a scarcity of food during this time, the mammal will likely grab anything available.
Did you know?
Squirrels often bury their acorns and then forget where they placed them. In most cases, the forgotten acorns sprout and grow into oak trees!
- Forget about their small body size, squirrels are highly active and need a whole lot of food. To fuel their busybodies, the mammals are seldom choosy on the meals they have and will snack on anything edible including birds’ eggs.
- Like any other animal out there, squirrels require proteins and fats. So, the bird eggs provide a natural source of the two nutrients to the small mammal. More than that, eggshells are a great source of calcium.
- There are very few mammals that are as curious as the squirrel, especially the juveniles. This curiosity drives the rodent to taste everything in their way to ascertain if it is edible. Birds and bird eggs are no exception.
- Courtesy of their exemplary climbing skills, it is easier and more convenient for squirrels to run up a tree to a female’s nest, access the eggs or juvenile birds, and sink their teeth into them.
Do squirrels eat adult birds?
Although squirrels are seldom picky in matters of food and usually snack on whatever is available at the time, they are usually reluctant to confront adult birds. The rodents will not necessarily attack an adult bird but prefer targeting empty bird nests.
Squirrels will prefer attacking weak or defenseless birds rather than healthy adult birds. Healthy adult birds are likely to retaliate and fight back. But in very rare situations, squirrels would kill bigger adult birds.
Even so, the sight of squirrels eating dead carcasses of birds is nowhere breaking news. Once the rodents run out of stock of their conventional foods like seeds, fruits, and nuts, they will chew away kills on the way.
Do raccoons eat adult birds?
Definitely! Despite being omnivores, the diet of a raccoon is to a large extent made of meat. Moreover, raccoons are survivalists and will seldom discriminate or be picky whenever they are hungry. Nevertheless, birds are not as meaty as mammals. This forces raccoons to snack on more than a single bird to fill their bellies.
How to stop squirrels from eating birds
To put a halt to the predation on birds and their eggs, you need to;
- Consider providing food for the squirrels to prevent them from running short on food and turning to the avian creatures.
- In the bird feeders, provide food that squirrels do not favor such as hot pepper. Ensure that the food repulses the rodents but does not harm the birds.
- Alternatively, opt for a feeder with plastic domes called baffles that are specialized to prevent squirrels from access.
- Position the bird feeders anywhere but on trees because trees are much easier for the squirrel to access.
- Ensure the pole supporting the feeder is squirrel-proof. If you are the handy type, take time to make a slinky and add it to the feeder pole to discourage the rodents.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do squirrels eat chipmunks?
Researchers have recorded several cases of red squirrels attacking a chipmunk, killing them, and eating them. Such cases are however very rare.
Do raccoons eat baby birds?
Absolutely. Raccoons are omnivores and have a taste for both plants and animals. Just like squirrels, raccoons are opportunistic hunters that will feed on pretty much all that comes their way.
Do red squirrels eat bird eggs?
Red squirrels will not hang back should they run into unattended bird eggs. Like their siblings in the squirrel family, the red squirrels are usually opportunistic feeders and will feed on anything they can lay their claws on including bird eggs.
Do gray squirrels eat bird eggs?
Gray squirrels are not different from other squirrels. If there is little else to consume, gray squirrels will not shy from raiding a bird’s nest and consume the eggs.
Which other animals eat bird eggs from the nests?
Other animals that feed on avian eggs include;
- Steller’s Jays
- Blue jays
- House and wild cats
- House Sparrows
- Brown-headed Cowbirds
- Common Grackles
Do squirrels eat meat?
Needless to say, squirrels are fond of eating meat. Although most squirrels are vegetarians, they like to obtain much-needed proteins by eating meat from dead carcasses and young birds.
Read also about The Ultimate Guide To Jenday Conure Bird
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