Despite what cartoons or comics may portray, squirrels do not just eat acorns or nuts. They are omnivorous and opportunistic. Thus, they can eat plant- or meat-based foods, whichever is readily available.
Thus, the answer to – do squirrels eat birds – is they do. Usually, squirrels eat baby birds and eggs, although they’ll occasionally eat adult or dead birds.
However, there’s more to this phenomenon than it seems, which you’ll discover as you keep reading.
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Why Might Squirrels Eat Birds?
Although squirrels are considered omnivores, they prefer plant-based food such as nuts, fruits, or seeds. Therefore, birds and eggs aren’t a typical part of a squirrel’s diet.
But if that is so, why do they end up eating birds? The most straightforward answer is scarcity.
When there are few nuts or acorns, squirrels eat practically anything to survive. They’ll destroy bird nests, ransacking for seeds, eggs, or hatchlings to eat.
It’s not just nests that they target. They may also raid trash cans and human homes. Thus, you’ll sometimes see neighborhood squirrels munching on human leftovers or edible garbage.
Also, birds and their eggs offer better sustenance and nutrients than garbage. They can be a source of protein, fat, and calcium.
What Kind of Birds Do Squirrels Eat?
Squirrels may eat a wide variety of bird species. These are some of the kinds they’re known to eat:
- Mountain chickadees
- American robins
- Mourning doves
- Blue jays
- Baby ducks
Note that the kinds of birds squirrels eat aren’t limited to the above list. Indeed, species isn’t a significant factor in their choice of bird meal.
It’s more about the size of the bird and the circumstances. For instance, squirrels may settle for eggs if they aren’t so hungry. However, they may even eat large, dead birds if they are starving and desperate.
How Do Squirrels Catch Birds?
Squirrels kill birds when they are weak, babies, nestlings, or injured. That demographic cannot defend themselves from the squirrel’s sharp teeth, so they’re targeted.
If the squirrel is feeding on a large bird, though, it’s unlikely it killed or caught it. Chances are, it happened upon the bird’s dead body.
After all, birds can drop dead for various reasons. For instance, they may collide against windows and fall to their deaths.
When that happens and a squirrel is nearby, it may run up to the dead body and feast on it. That may sound like some morbid imagery, but that’s nature.
Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?
Squirrels eat bird eggs. These are some of the species or types known to eat eggs:
- Grey squirrels
- Red squirrels
- Fox squirrels
- Flying squirrels
- Ground squirrels
- Douglas squirrels
These animals often prefer eggs over the actual birds. Therefore, you’re more likely to see squirrels destroy bird nests and raiding for eggs than killing birds.
They also aren’t particular about what bird species they’ll raid. However, avian species whose nests aren’t well-protected are especially vulnerable to squirrels.
For instance, if a bird nest only has a mother tending to it, it will be highly susceptible to a squirrel raid when the mother leaves to eat.
Thus, many bird parents take turns in protecting the nests. If the mother goes to feed, the father would take over guarding duty. They would chase away or raise alarms over squirrels and other nest raiders.
Invasive Squirrels May Threaten Native Birds
Usually, when a non-native squirrel species is introduced into an area, it can quickly become invasive and threaten the native bird population. For instance, the Eastern gray squirrel is noted as a pest or threat to native birds in the British Isles.
That species takes eggs and nestlings, negatively impacting the local avian population. Other squirrels that do the same are the Pallas’s squirrels, certain types of tree squirrels, and Finlayson’s squirrels.
Birds of Prey Eat Squirrels
The fact that squirrels attack birds may make you think that the latter are at the mercy of the former. However, the aggression goes both ways – in the race to survive, squirrels and birds compete, turning tables depending on the situation.
For instance, I’ve established that squirrels eat birds, especially eggs or nestlings. But the other way can happen – some birds eat squirrels. Here are the specific types that do:
As you’ll notice, most of the birds that eat squirrels are birds of prey. They’re the ones who are large enough and have sharp talons to catch, kill, and eat squirrels.
This article tackles the question, “Do squirrels eat birds?”. As you’ve learned, the answer is that they do.
Squirrels usually raid nests and eat unprotected eggs or baby birds. However, they may attack weak, adult birds or consume dead bodies.
These animals aren’t particular about the species of bird they eat. Usually, they opt for what’s convenient. That is, whichever bird is nearby and helpless, making it easy for them to kill and eat.
Birds aren’t usually squirrels’ first choice for a meal. Thus, you won’t often see these furry creatures eating their feathery neighbors unless there is food scarcity.
George and I became friends after a birdwatching trip with our new group. And we have been enjoying every adventure together. When he told me the idea of establishing a site that shares our experiences and fun, I immediately agreed. After trials and errors, here we have Thayerbirding.