We know that snakes and foxes eat bird eggs and that some birds, such as vultures and hawks, do as well — but do squirrels?
It may surprise you to learn that squirrels consume bird eggs occasionally; however, it is not an essential component of their diet. Furthermore, squirrels have been known to consume birds. I know they’re meant to be vegetarians, but many species aren’t.
Continue reading to learn more about squirrels, their nutrition, and why they consume bird eggs.
Table of Contents
- Do squirrels eat bird eggs?
- Why do squirrels eat bird eggs?
- Do squirrels eat baby birds, too?
- Which birds are more likely to have their eggs stolen?
- Do squirrels only eat bird eggs out of love for stealing?
- Species of squirrels that are more likely to eat bird eggs
- Final thoughts
Do squirrels eat bird eggs?
Fruits, nuts, and vegetables make up the majority of a squirrel’s diet. Some are omnivores, which means they can consume both vegetables and meat. Some squirrels are carnivorous, and their diet consists primarily of meat.
However, those are only a few species, and the bulk of them have a vegetarian or omnivorous diet.
Squirrels do, however, devour bird eggs in large numbers. Not just squirrels, but even ground squirrels and chipmunks do it to supplement their diet with protein.
Squirrels benefit much from the calcium in the shell of a bird egg. Because of their rapid speed and tiny size, they may easily take eggs.
Why do squirrels eat bird eggs?
Squirrels eat bird eggs for a variety of reasons. You may find the idea ludicrous, but the tiny organisms have their motivations for snatching eggs. For starters, eggs have a high protein and calcium content due to the shell, making them an excellent dietary source when nuts are limited.
Eggs are also helpful for squirrels since they come across them frequently. Squirrels spend most of their time hopping from one tree to the next. As a result, they go into bird nests without even trying, making eggs an easy food source for them.
Squirrels are likewise compelled to hunt for bird eggs under certain conditions. Pregnant female squirrels, for example, have higher nutritional requirements, prompting them to seek out nutrient-rich foods such as bird eggs.
Furthermore, most squirrels eat plants deficient in distinctive elements like calcium, nitrogen, and phosphorus. Their bodies require every ounce of nutrients they can get, and a bird egg supplies all of it.
Finally, nuts and fruits become rare throughout the colder months of the year. As a result, squirrels have little choice but to investigate alternative food sources, including bird eggs. Bird eggs are plentiful throughout the year, so they should be simple to come by at any time.
All of this isn’t to say that squirrels eat bird eggs as a standard component of their diet. They’re just a good source of nutrients that regularly falls into a squirrel’s path.
Do squirrels eat baby birds, too?
Squirrels already eat bird eggs while they’re young. Isn’t it possible that they’ll consume the chicks when they hatch?
To some extent, you are correct, although it is not a common occurrence. When squirrels have the chance, they’ll steal a bird’s nestlings, and there’s a good possibility they’ll eat the baby birds inside.
Squirrels do this only when the mother bird isn’t there. Squirrels have no chance of fighting it when it’s guarding their kids in the nest since they’re not swift or powerful enough. They’re a cunning bunch!
You may have always thought of squirrels as cute vegetarians who eat nuts. When their hands contact an active nest that they may feed on, they can become somewhat aggressive.
Which birds are more likely to have their eggs stolen?
Squirrels are more inclined to attack newborn birds and nestlings when their moms aren’t there. There are, however, several additional characteristics that make birds more vulnerable to their eggs being eaten.
First, birds who build their nests above ground with no vegetation to hide them are an open invitation for squirrels and other small animals. If they’re breeding in open forest areas, they’re at much greater risk.
Furthermore, birds who build their nests between tree branches, namely at the fork of the tree, are more prone to have their nests taken. These are out in the open with no protection, and squirrels are known for jumping up trees.
Birds that nest in locations with large squirrel populations and birds that nest in places where squirrels have no other food sources are more in danger.
Do squirrels only eat bird eggs out of love for stealing?
Monkeys, for example, are notorious for stealing. I’m sure many of us have fond memories of visiting the zoo and having a lunch or two stolen by a monkey who finds it amusing!
Similarly, numerous animals tend to steal birds’ nests since they are easy to steal. Are squirrels the same as humans?
You won’t believe this, but several research has been conducted to determine whether squirrels have a secretive nature. Squirrels, it turns out, enjoy stealing. They’ll stockpile enough food to get through the winter, but they’ll still steal cones and nuts from other squirrels.
The same is true with bird eggs; only they don’t consume them just for that purpose. They eat eggs because they are protein-rich, but they also like stealing. The fact that they don’t get the eggs when the mother birds are nearby is the greatest proof.
They don’t bother when they come with difficulty. They wouldn’t mind a battle if it were only for the food.
Species of squirrels that are more likely to eat bird eggs
Some squirrel species eat bird eggs regularly, whereas others do not. It’s sometimes due to the squirrel’s nature. It might, however, be due to the environment or the availability of food.
Because some squirrels live in areas where cones and nuts are sparse, they must locate other food sources. Here’s a list of the animals most likely to steal an egg from a bird’s nest.
Red squirrels have reddish-grey coats that cover their little bodies. Their creamy white underbelly is their most distinguishing trait, and there is some white around their eyes. The bushy, long tail of red squirrels differs from that of tree squirrels. Theirs, on the other hand, are shorter and less fluffy.
They’re well recognized for being carnivorous, meaning they eat meat as their primary source of nutrition. They commonly consume bird eggs, and if they come across a newborn bird, they will also devour it. When it comes to obtaining food, these squirrels have a reputation for being destructive. They spend the majority of their time looking for it and are notorious nest robbers.
If you’re concerned about their locations, they have a vast range, spanning the United States, the United Kingdom, and Ireland, as well as Mongolia, Northwest China, and Russia.
The bodies of flying squirrels are smaller than those of most other species. Their bodies, including the length of their heads and tails, are hardly more than 10 inches long. Because of two skin flaps between their front and back legs, they’re noted for their fast ‘flight.’
Like red squirrels, they have white underbellies, but their bodies are clothed in a velvety brown coat. Although flying squirrels are native to North and Central America, specific populations may be found in Northern Europe.
Fruits, nuts, vegetables, and berries are significant sources of nutrition for these squirrels. They are, however, opportunistic eaters, which means they will eat a bird egg if they encounter one, which they frequently do due to their leaping behaviors and rapid speeds.
If they locate a newborn bird in the nest without protection, they won’t hesitate to consume it.
Gray squirrels are known for their daring feeding habits. They like dead birds, but if given a chance, they’ll attack a live young bird as well. They also enjoy robbing nests; therefore, bird eggs are a common occurrence for them.
They’re shrewd foragers who consume just about anything that comes their way. You might be surprised to learn that these squirrels have been known to devour other squirrels of the same species.
Why would they stop at a bird egg if they consume their neighbors of the same species?
Gray squirrels have silver-grey coats and brownish faces. They consume a variety of foods, including cones and hazelnuts, but they also eat meat. Their range stretches from the east coast of the United States to northern Canada. Some populations can also be found in the western United States.
Is it true that squirrels consume bird eggs?
Squirrels may appear to be vegetarian, fluffy, and charming creatures who are constantly nibbling on hazelnuts. However, these pals — especially the carnivorous ones — may be ruthless when it comes to food.
They’ll devour bird eggs anytime they come upon them, and they’ll even consume baby birds if they’re left alone. The good news is that they aren’t fast enough to attack and kill adult birds to protect the moms.