Squirrels are from the Sciuridae family, which includes chipmunks, marmots, and prairie dogs. They are a common rodent and are found all over the world.
There are over 200 different types and species of squirrels that have been divided by ecologists into three main groups:
- Flying squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Tree squirrels which include Grey, Pine, and Fox Squirrels
Today, we’ll focus on whether these squirrels eat bird eggs or not.
Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?
Squirrels are naturally herbivores, and their diet consists of nuts, seeds, lichens, mushrooms, fruits, pine cones, roots, twigs, corn cobs, etc.
However, squirrels do eat eggs and even adult birds! Eggs are rich in proteins and fats, which makes them a desirable meal.
Fox squirrels raid American Robin ‘birds’ nests and steal eggs to enjoy a protein-high meal. Squirrels are a threat to bird populations in numerous parts of America.
Eggshells are exceptionally nutritious due to their high calcium content and are attractive to squirrels.
Do Squirrels Eat Birds?
If someone asks you what squirrels eat, your immediate answer will be nuts. Although that is true, squirrels will also eat other things such as birds!
Squirrels are far from picky eaters. Although they prefer eating birds that are already dead, they are great hunters and will raid nests to find unprotected baby birds and procure their lunch.
Squirrels live in a habitat that is closely related to birds. Dense forests, gardens, and high trees are often the residence of bird’s nests.
Unfortunately for baby birds, they’re also home to squirrels that will snatch them away when the mother bird flies out to get the day’s meals.
This close living is of a considerable disadvantage to birds since squirrels can climb trees of virtually any height, which means that no bird’s nest can remain safe from these furry predators.
Rodents can be omnivorous when the situation demands so. Nuts and seeds may not always be available, and rodents have been routinely seen to eat meat.
A researcher, Jessica Haines, studied squirrels and reported in one of her studies published in The Scientific Naturalist that “Squirrels also eat things like baby bunnies, baby birds, and birds’ eggs.”
Birds are a common food source for various mammals and other birds.
Why Do Squirrels Eat Birds Eggs?
Squirrels bury food before winters so that when they wake up from hibernation, they may have a store of food to snack on. But some of these buried nuts sprout up and form plants in the spring by the time squirrels wake up from hibernation.
Squirrels become desperate for food and eat whatever is available. Spring is nesting time for most birds, and eggs are aplenty. Naturally, these prove a rich source of nutrients, which are beneficial for rodents after a long hibernation.
Like all animals that hibernate during long winters, squirrels know the importance of getting the proper diet before the winter comes. Other animals such as birds and larger land animals can survive off of prey that lives in the forest year-round.
However, if the squirrels were to rely on nuts and plants that are not available year-round, they would most likely starve. Hence fattening up before the winters is essential preparation for them.
The proteins found in the eggs give long-term strength to their body, giving them muscle strength. This strength will be beneficial when the winter dries up edible plants in the forest, and the squirrel must spend long hours searching for food.
Eggs are a convenient food source and are easily found lying around in nests. They are accessible due to the proximity to a ‘squirrel’s natural habitat. Nests and squirrel holes coexist in trees in forests. Squirrels may encounter bird eggs and decide to try one if they are hungry.
Squirrels are energetic and busy creatures who require a lot of energy for their tiny bodies. They can consume up to a pound of food per week.
Suppose there is an abundant squirrel population in an area. In that case, food sources may quickly deplete as they all come out of hibernation at a similar time.
Squirrels may then find eggs highly convenient and full of energy sources. If the mother bird isn’t around, squirrels will help themselves to an easy meal.
Squirrels Will Eat Anything!
Squirrels are opportunistic creatures.
They will kill adult birds, or even the young of their species if they are hungry enough.
Jessica Haines also reported witnessing male adult squirrels eat squirrel pups that were not their own. This phenomenon is known as infanticide and is common in rodents, among other animals.
The Dietary Habits of Squirrels
Squirrels have complex dietary habits, which can be a nuisance to people.
A multi-million-dollar industry is built solely around keeping these rodents out of bird feeders.
Apart from eggs and birds, squirrels also consume other sources of proteins, such as small reptiles and insects.
The diet of squirrels varies between species and their geographical locations. Rural squirrels have a different diet than urban ones.
What Food Can’t Squirrels Eat?
There are only a few foods squirrels avoid. These are usually foods that do not agree with their stomachs, including onions, garlic, and all kinds of peppers.
People often use these foods to keep out squirrels from their gardens, where they may ruin carefully grown plants and vegetables.
Some foods are bad for squirrels, such as dairy products, processed foods, sweet things like candy and chocolates, etc. These foods irritate a squirrel’s stomachs, but that doesn’t stop them from trying to eat them.
Squirrels are naturally curious when it comes to food and will sink their teeth into anything they find. They taste-test to see if something is edible or not.
How To Stop Squirrels from Eating Bird Eggs and Feed?
If you are worried or frustrated that squirrels are eating bird eggs and feed in your garden or near your area, there are a few measures that you can take to keep squirrels away from nests.
Keep in mind that squirrels are intelligent and seem to find their way around any setup.
Make Bird Feeders Inaccessible
People often poison squirrels to keep them from being a nuisance near bird feeders.
This is a ruthless way of getting rid of a pest problem.
Instead, try installing bird feeders in places that are hard to read for squirrels and cover them with plastic domes that block access from above.
Keep in mind that squirrels will bounce on the bird feeders and make them wobble if you cover the feeder with a plastic dome.
As the feed falls to the ground, squirrels snack on it and fill their bellies. They are sneaky little creatures.
Install Squirrel Feeders
The easiest way to keep squirrels from eating eggs or bird feed is to install a squirrel feeder. They are sure to leave bird eggs alone if they have enough food to eat.
Even though bird feed is good for birds, squirrels don’t receive any nutrition from bird feed.
Squirrel feeders come in many shapes and forms. These include picnic table feeders, deck feeders, combination feeders, swinging baskets, etc.
A squirrel feeder helps distract squirrels from being destructive nuisances.
You can save money on bird feed and save precious songbird eggs if you keep your squirrel feeder fully stocked with corn cobs, peanuts, and compressed corn logs.
Do Squirrels Adversely Affect Bird Populations?
There are few documented studies that explore whether squirrel populations in inversely proportional to bird populations.
A report published by the British Trust for Ornithology explored the impacts of Grey Squirrels on Woodland Birds.
The study results indicated that although squirrel populations increase when the woodland bird population decreased, the two phenomena were not correlated.
Further research must be done to explore the effects that squirrels have on bird populations.
The research states that squirrels are major nest predators of birds. The Grey Squirrel is an important predator that routinely hunts and predates the nest of songbirds in woodlands.
The study explored the possibility of individual squirrels specializing in becoming predators for bird nests.
As mentioned earlier, birds and squirrels live in proximity and may even fight over nesting places. Competition for food may also commence, especially if food sources are scarce.
Multiple factors affect the population of various species, which must all be explored if results are to be conclusive.
As exasperating as it seems, we cannot blame squirrels for eating to get sufficient sustenance. It is the law of nature and has been in place for millenniums.
Nature is enticing, and we have so much more to learn and observe.
We’ve only uncovered a small part of it. Squirrels are incredibly adaptable and intelligent creatures with the capability to adjust to any environment they are introduced to, even urban areas.
Squirrels are particularly amusing, although they are so common and seemingly ordinary.
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