When you’re spending a day at the park or walking through the woods, you might come across squirrels from time to time. Throughout this period, it’s common for you to also see many birds flying around.
Therefore, you might wonder to yourself if squirrels eat birds at all. Well, the short answer is yes – some squirrels will certainly feed on some birds because they are omnivorous animals.
However, there’s a lot more that we need to look into here.
Luckily though, we’ve written this handy guide which explains everything you need to know about squirrels and whether or not they eat birds. So, if you’re looking to learn a lot more about this topic – then read on and discover the answers!
Squirrels: the basics
Let’s start off with the basics. The fact is that some squirrels will indeed prey on some birds because they are omnivores. This essentially means that while squirrels will normally chow down on plant matter and other vitamins and minerals, they also will go for other foods.
When presented with the opportunity, and if they need to feed – squirrels will also eat animal proteins and some especially vulnerable animals, some of which can be birds. Birds can be an excellent source of protein and calcium for squirrels, and while it is not their “go-to” meal, they will definitely eat them if they need to and are given a chance to do so.
In fact, it’s often recommended that bird lovers avoid placing bird feed near their birdhouses in their gardens to avoid attracting squirrels to areas that birds may be nesting in. This is because squirrels also enjoy eating some bird food, often included in bird feeders.
Do squirrels eat baby birds?
As with the previous point, squirrels are opportunistic feeders and if there is an opportunity and a need to consume a baby bird, they will definitely try to do so. As squirrels are incredibly fast and have an excellent sense of smell, they can often succeed.
In fact, as baby birds may not have the ability to fly away and are seen by squirrels to be especially vulnerable due to their undeveloped nature. It makes them particularly easy prey for squirrels.
In normal circumstances, adult birds will try to protect their young from predators like squirrels, but it’s not uncommon for adult birds to be absent for brief periods – allowing squirrels to take their opportunity to feed.
Red squirrels vs gray squirrels
Generally speaking, red squirrels are seen as much more dangerous than gray squirrels, particularly in the context of vulnerable prey. In fact, when it comes to small and baby birds, you need only to look at the Rocky Mountains.
Among this beautiful setting, there lives the Mountain Chickadee and red squirrels are very well known for taking their chances to feed on these birds when they are very young. This is made much more difficult for the adult to protect them due to two reasons.
As the environment is so large, the adult birds may need to travel further to find food for both themselves and their young, meaning it takes longer to return – and it’s more difficult to sense danger.
Secondly, as the red squirrel is famed for being more dangerous, they may not even be able to successfully protect their young anyway.
Yes, it is true. Although the red squirrel is substantially smaller than the gray, it is much more agressive. This may be because it is the smallest species in North America and has to stand up for itself. It also has a harder time in winter as it doesn’t hibernate. Therefore, it has to store food to get it through the colder months and then protect them.
Will squirrels also eat bird eggs?
Naturally you’ll be wondering if squirrels will also consume bird eggs if they eat birds. Once again, the answer is yes and bird eggs can again be an excellent source of protein and calcium. Indeed, eggs are a very good source of healthy fats and protein for the majority of animals, and squirrels benefit from this much in the way that humans can.
Some studies have also suggested that squirrels are particularly fond of the taste of bird eggs too, which can also make it more likely for them to look for bird nests.
Do squirrels hunt for birds?
Not really. As we mentioned earlier, squirrels are not exactly hunters. They are more opportunistic feeders. So, while it’s indeed normal for squirrels to eat birds and bird eggs, they don’t exactly hunt for them. Having said this, if squirrels are in areas in which they are aware of birds, they may indeed look for bird nests – but this is not in the same way that predators will look for their prey.
On top of this, we must also consider how hungry or desperate the squirrel is to begin with. Once again, while they may not necessarily hunt – if a squirrel is especially desperate for food and sustenance, they may be far more likely to be active in bird habitats.
Protecting your birds
If you have birds in your garden or even in your home, you should take a few steps to protect them against squirrels and indeed some other dangers from the outside world. First, as we briefly discussed previously, avoid placing bird feed near bird houses.
It’s also a good idea to try to keep bird houses as high as possible. While squirrels can easily climb, they are much more likely to be scavenging for food on the ground and lower areas. It also gives you a short window to shoo away a squirrel if you see it getting too close to birds.
You may also wish to ask a bird expert about some plants or other things which may detract squirrels from your areas that often have birds.
The sad fact is that yes, squirrels will definitely feed upon birds and bird eggs when given the opportunity or if they are particularly hungry and desperate.
However, this is a fact of life that we must accept. And, you can take some basic steps to protect your own birds in your yard!
Not really. Bird feeders have become a source of tension through. Squirrels see the food as an easy meal and, while not aggressive to the birds, will scare them away. If birds nest close to feeders and squirrels come into the area then it automatically places the nest in jeopardy as it also represents an easy meal.
Most definitely wild. There is a huge interest in squirrels because of their agility and antics around bird feeders. This has given the impression that they are tame. Doesn’t hurt that they look cute too. But they are wild and will be quite vicious if cornered.
There are 8 species of tree squirrel in the U.S. but we only really see the gray and sometimes the red.