If like me, you are quite the animal lover, nature can be both a beautiful and devastating place to be. You only have to open the door to your back garden to be surrounded by bountiful wildlife.
Those trees? There are probably birds making their homes out of twigs and branches right inside them.
The lawn? Teeming with all manner of creepy crawlies and wiggling worms. Squirrels take slumber in underground burrows. If you look closely, there’s a whole animal world to see.
But beware, for life is no Disney movie, and all species we’re not made to be best friends.
The animal kingdom can be more gruesome and heartbreaking than you’d ever imagine once you pull back the curtain. And that’s because of the food chain.
The birds high in the trees? They’ll swoop down and make those wiggly worms their next meal. But it’s not just those crawling critters that must be fearful of creatures great and small.
Squirrels are also on the lookout for their next meal, and while they do love to munch on nuts and seeds, there’s nothing more tempting than the delicious meal of baby bird eggs.
In the animal kingdom, it is an eat-or-be-eaten world.
Why do squirrels eat bird eggs?
While you or I might read this in horror, and maybe even choke up a bit at the thought of a little baby bird losing its life before it even properly began, for our friend (or foe) the squirrel it simply means they’ll live to see another day.
Like pretty much any wild animal, squirrels are responsible for finding their own sustenance. There’s no big house with an oven where they can make themselves a nice meal, they have to get out and forage. They aren’t fussy eaters, and they’re opportunistic. They’ll take whatever they can get.
With this being said, Squirrels aren’t constantly on the prowl for baby bird eggs. They don’t meticulously hunt them down. They aren’t even a part of their main diet. Squirrels will more typically consume a variety of nuts and seeds along with some flowers, maybe a pine cone or two, and tasty acorns.
However, in some areas, there is quite a high population of squirrels, and that means they’re all on the hunt for those same tasty treats. There isn’t always enough food to go around. And what then? Well, they have to adapt. Find something else that can fill up their bellies.
And this is when things can turn fatal for bird eggs. As good climbers, squirrels have pretty good access to trees and an unattended nest is easy pickings. It’s food on a platter for them. If there is an abundance of nests in the area, it’s also a much more convenient meal for squirrels. It’s like ordering a takeaway instead of bothering to cook.
Keeping squirrels away from birdhouses
Of course, if you’re a keen bird watcher this isn’t exactly ideal. Luckily, there are a few things that you can do to try and keep the squirrels away from nests and force them to look elsewhere for their next meal.
Sorry guys, looks like you’ll have to cook for yourself.
1. Make the eggs hard to reach
Typically, bird feeders come with pretty large openings. This is so that a multitude of birds of varying sizes can perch and visit the home.
If the birds in your area are relatively small, you can consider making the opening to the home much smaller so that the eggs inside the house are not size-accessible for those pesky squirrels.
2. Add a long narrow tube
Squirrels have much bigger bodies than birds, right? So you can attach a long and narrow tube to the opening of the birdhouse.
You want it to be large enough that Mom and Dad can easily make their way in and out of the tube but not so large that a squirrel can stealthily sneak through.
Because they will give it their best go if they can.
Just remember that the tube needs to be long enough that a squirrel can’t just poke their hand through and snatch them out. I made that mistake once.
3. Squirrel baffles
Nothing bests a squirrel quite like a baffle. You could say that they are baffling to them. What they do is essentially make it very difficult for the squirrel to get close to the birdhouse.
For mounted houses, baffles stop the squirrel from being able to climb the pole. For hanging houses, a pointed spire restricts the squirrel from jumping onto the house.
4. Place your birdhouse wisely
You should always consider the potential dangers for your birds when placing your birdhouse in your garden.
For example, if it’s nestled in near the trees and bushes, you’re giving the squirrels easy access. A birdhouse placed in the center of your yard, however, is much harder for them to reach.
Just be aware that squirrels are actually pretty proficient jumpers. Yep. They can bound as much as four feet into the air and can jump around 10 feet horizontally.
So make sure that the placement of your birdhouse is not close to access points that they can bound up, on, or across.
5. Use a repellent
There are products on the market that you can spray around bird feeders. They use pepper in them and while the birds can’t smell it, the squirells hate it and will avoid the area.
All in all, squirrels really aren’t all that dangerous or problematic. For the most part, they will mind their own business and will forage on nuts and berries.
However, as is the case with most animals, they will eat other species if it ensures their survival. And we can’t really blame them for it, do we humans not do the exact same thing? It is simply a natural process.
With that being said, though, for the bird watchers amongst us, they can become pretty pesky and annoying creatures.
And it’s definitely understandable to want to usher those squirrels away from our birdhouses. Hopefully, the tips in this article will help you keep those little baby bird eggs safe!
The presence of squirrels will tend to put birds off visiting feeders. However, the squirrel (being the opportunist) listens to the birds and if they are singing, the squirrel knows the area is relatively safe. Of course, the other times they might interact is when the squirrel is trying to raid the nest.
So, squirrels do not get it all their own way. Some hawks are big enough to hunt, catch and eat squirrels. These birds have even been known to work in groups to flush out and hunt squirrels.
Dogs and cats in the garden are a good deterrent for squirrels, although they may also scare away birds! Another alternative to scaring squirrels away is to have plastic owls dotted around the garden.