Most people know that squirrels like to eat peanuts and acorns but what about bird eggs? Squirrels are omnivores, which means that they eat both plants and meat.
Squirrels will absolutely eat bird eggs and baby birds! Squirrels are routinely seen raiding birds nests in tress and even stealing eggs from chicken coops. Eggs are a natural part of a squirrel’s diet but squirrels have not been shown to significantly impact bird populations.
If you are worried about squirrels in your neighborhood dining on bird eggs, take a moment to learn more about the typical squirrel diet.
Squirrels Eat Almost Anything
Squirrels naturally look for nuts and native plants to fill their bellies. However, squirrels eat almost anything. The foods that they tend to look for include acorns, tree bark, flowers, fruits, vegetables, insects, and various plants.
When squirrels get hungry, they do not get picky. They may try anything that appears edible, including bird eggs and will also consume nestling birds. Bird eggs are a common food source for a variety of mammals.
While squirrels are not picky, there are a few things that they tend to avoid. Raw garlic, onions, and hot peppers do not set well in their stomachs. These are foods that they may not eat.
Some of these foods are even used as deterrents in gardens for keeping the squirrels out. For example, a pepper or garlic spray may help keep squirrels and other animals away from your vegetables.
There are also foods that squirrels should not eat. Processed foods, dairy products, candy, and chocolate may irritate their digestive systems. However, that may not stop them from trying to eat these foods.
When it comes to eating, squirrels are curious. Similar to many animals, a squirrel may taste-test something to determine if it’s edible.
Why Would a Squirrel Eat Bird Eggs?
The main reasons why a squirrel would eat bird eggs include convenience and hunger. The fact that the squirrels already spend time climbing through the trees and making nests means that they may easily come across a bird’s nest containing eggs or baby birds.
Without the mother bird around, the squirrel may feel comfortable trying to snack on the contents of the nest. However, this is unlikely to occur when the mother is present. Similar to most animals, birds are incredibly protective of their young.
Squirrels may also go out of their way to look for food in the trees when they get hungry. If there is an abundance of squirrels in the region or if there is not a lot of food in the area, they need to try harder to find fuel for their busy bodies.
Bird eggs are not an unusual item in a squirrel’s diet. It is simply a convenient meal full of protein that they may find during their usual search for food.
Do Squirrels Hurt Bird Populations?
There has always been uncertainty around whether or not an increase in the squirrel population caused a decrease in the bird population.
The best formally documented study was performed in 2003 for the effects of gray squirrels on the population of songbirds in England. The study was particularly important as gray squirrels are an invasive species in England with the potential to disrupt the local ecosystems.
In the study it was determined that although the decline in songbird population happened while the squirrel population was increasing that the two events were not correlated. The decline in bird population was more likely caused by a loss of woodland habitat and other environmental factors.
How to Stop Squirrels From Eating Bird Eggs
If you are worried about the nests of songbirds in your area and want to stop the squirrels from raiding their nests there really isn’t much that can be done.
Squirrels have been defeating complex squirrel proof bird feeders for years. The bottom line is that they are going to eat what they want to eat.
The one way I can suggest for slowing the squirrels down is to make sure they already have access to plenty of food. I always keep a few squirrel feeders up in my yard so they will always have something to snack on. It isn’t a perfect solution but it is a start 🙂