You love waking up in the morning to the smell of freshly brewed coffee and the sound of chirping birds, which is why you have set up a bird feeder. However, you have noticed that it keeps getting the attention of squirrels, and you fear that birds will catch their fancy, too, or even worse.
Squirrels will eat small birds when they are hungry. They will also attack larger birds, except for their natural predators, if there is no food available. Squirrels will eat baby birds and eggs, too, if the mother bird is not around.
Ensuring that squirrels have plenty to eat can help prevent this.
Whether you love to have around both squirrels and birds or just birds alone, having a bird feeder (and a bird bath, too) is a wonderful idea.
Unfortunately, it’s likely for squirrels to steal and eat all the contents of the bird feeder, leaving nothing to birds. And if the bird feeder is empty, squirrels may turn to birds and their eggs for sustenance.
Read on if you love having birds around but hate the thought that you could lose them to hungry squirrels.
Squirrels Have a Surprisingly Diverse Diet
Nuts — it’s no secret that squirrels absolutely love them.
Acorns, walnuts, hazelnuts, pecans, pistachios, macadamia nuts, and peanuts are all irresistible for these beady-eyed creatures.
Each time squirrels find one, they will either eat it or bury it and come back to it later, such as when the wintertime hits.
However, squirrels eat many other foods than just nuts. They also find it delightful to eat seeds, flowers, fruits and vegetables, all of which provide them with an assortment of nutrients they need.
Not many people know the fact that squirrels are not only herbivorous but carnivorous, too.
So, needless to say, squirrels also eat other animals. This is especially true if they are having a difficult time getting their hands on nuts, their ultimate favorites, and various plant-based foods. If squirrels see a living creature and it’s smaller than them, it is very much possible that they will eat it when they are hungry.
Each time squirrels run out of plant-based foods to munch on, insects are the first ones that they will try to hunt. Some of those that they won’t hesitate to catch and eat include:
- Even flying ones like butterflies, moths, and bees!
In some instances, particularly if they are famished, it’s not unlikely for squirrels to eat other animals, such as snakes and fish.
Some squirrels will also eat their own kind!
Do Squirrels Attack Birds?
Squirrels attack birds when they are hungry, and no other food is available to eat. Most of the time, squirrels will go for dead birds because there is no effort involved. However, squirrels will also opt for live birds if they get desperately hungry, making use of their climbing and jumping skills.
There is no denying that “yes” is the answer to the question “do squirrels eat bird seed?”
In some instances, they will also eat those that are meant to eat birdseed in the first place — birds.
Sparrows, robins, wrens, bluebirds, hummingbirds, warblers — these are some of the birds that squirrels will usually go for whenever they have nothing else to eat.
Squirrels will target them as they are small and thus easier to catch than larger ones. Most of the time, however, they will go for dead or injured birds.
But if they cannot spot any dead or injured birds (and other foods, too), they won’t hesitate hunting down birds.
It’s for this reason why keeping squirrels on your property from going hungry can help keep birds around from winding up in their bellies.
Similarly, it will keep squirrels away from the bird feeder that you have installed.
Which birds attack and eat squirrels?
Many birds of prey eat unsuspecting squirrels. Hawks, especially red-tailed hawks and cooper’s hawks, are some of those that love eating squirrels. Owls, including especially barred owls and great horned owls, also find squirrels delicious. Eagles, falcons, herons, and vultures eat squirrels, too.
Squirrels may prey on insects and birds alright. However, they are also prey to animals such as large birds (the ones mentioned above), snakes, raccoons, weasels, foxes, coyotes, wolves and bears.
Even domesticated animals such as dogs and cats may eat squirrels as well!
If you want to protect squirrels on your property from their common predators, consider installing a squirrel feeder.
This will keep them from the need to spend a lot of time foraging for food, making it less likely for their predators to come across them.
Making sure that they are well-fed can also lower their risk of winding up as road kills.
Would Squirrels Eat Baby Birds?
Squirrels will eat baby birds. Although they are mainly herbivorous, they will eat other animals if they have nothing else to eat. Some of the easiest preys for squirrels are baby birds as they cannot fly, run or fight back. Squirrels will usually opt for baby birds when the mommy bird isn’t around.
It can be disheartening that seemingly innocent squirrels can attack and eat defenseless baby birds before they are given the opportunity to feel what it’s like to fly and peck on worms and bugs (and poop on people, too).
Unfortunately, that’s how nature works — some animals are higher on the food chain, while other animals are lower on the food chain. In the case of baby birds, they are lower on the food chain than squirrels.
As a matter of fact, baby birds are lower on the food chain than their many common predators such as:
- Even birds of other species!
Just a quick tip: If it seems like something is preying on baby birds on your property and you have no idea what it is, you may get in touch with a pest control company or some wildlife experts in your area.
If you cannot bear the thought of completely harmless baby birds dying in the hands of squirrels which you adore equally, fret not.
That’s because it’s not all the time that squirrels will consider baby birds as snack items. In some instances, squirrels will not dare touch baby birds, such as when:
The mother bird is around
Mother birds are very protective of their baby birds and eggs, too.
As soon as they notice that a squirrel (or any other predator) is out to have a taste of their little ones, they will spring into action right away.
Unfortunately, if mommy birds believe that the risk is too great, they have no choice but to fly to safety and abandon their babies.
It’s a good thing that squirrels do not usually attack a nest and eat baby birds if the mommy bird is around.
Because of this, you should consider installing a bird feeder on your property. Doing this will save mommy birds from flying far away from their nests just to look for food.
Squirrels are well-fed
Other than installing a bird feeder to keep mommy birds from having to leave their babies for a long time, it’s a great idea to install a squirrel feeder, too.
For as long as squirrels on your property do not go hungry, they will leave baby birds alone — there is no reason for them to let their carnivorous side take over.
Especially during the coldest months of the year when food is scarce, the presence of a squirrel feeder can help keep everyone alive and kicking — squirrels and baby birds alike.
Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?
Squirrels eat bird eggs. Even though they prefer plant-based foods, squirrels will also eat animal-based foods, such as the eggs of birds, when they are extremely hungry. It’s not uncommon for squirrels to be spotted stealing eggs from bird nests and chicken coops if there is nothing else to eat.
Besides adult birds and baby birds, squirrels can also turn to bird eggs if food is scarce. They know for a fact that bird eggs are excellent sources of protein as well as an assortment of vitamins and minerals.
It may sound like it’s impossible for squirrels to be able to eat eggs because of their shells.
Well, squirrels do not have a hard time getting their hands on the gooey stuff inside bird eggs because they have long, sharp teeth that make it trouble-free for them to crack open bird eggs.
There are a couple of reasons why bird eggs are good for squirrels to eat:
Bird eggs help keep squirrels healthy
When not a lot of nuts and fruits and vegetables are available, squirrels will try to obtain much-needed nutrients from bird eggs. The same is true if they cannot seem to catch insects or feast on adult birds.
Especially during the wintertime, bird eggs are superb treats for squirrels.
That’s because bird eggs are rich in healthy fats that can help keep squirrels stay warm when the temperature drops.
Healthy fats present abundantly in bird eggs are important for the absorption of certain nutrients and keeping the heart in excellent shape, too.
Bird eggs help keep their teeth from growing long
Did you know that the teeth of squirrels never stop growing? Because of this, these rodents are at risk of not being able to eat because of jaws pierced by their own teeth!
It’s a must for squirrels to do the necessary step to wear down their continually growing teeth — and that’s by gnawing on hard things.
It’s due to this why feasting on bird eggs can help keep the teeth of squirrels from growing longer than necessary. The hard shells of bird eggs help wear down their teeth as well as keep them sharp.
Each time you wish to feed squirrels on your property chicken eggs, make sure that you do not crack them open first.
Allowing squirrels to crack open chicken eggs is good for their teeth. It also enables them to get their dose of exercise.
By the way, it’s for the same reason why it’s best to give squirrels nuts that are still in their shells.
Just a quick tip: To keep squirrels from eating bird eggs, make sure that you regularly offer them nuts and their other favorite treats, too. You may also install a squirrel feeder.
By giving squirrels enough plant-based foods to eat, there is no reason for them to turn to carnivore mode and look for bird eggs to eat.
How to Keep Squirrels Off Bird Feeders
If you want to keep the contents of a bird feeder exclusive to birds, fret not.
There are many steps that you may take to keep the sticky paws of squirrels from stealing all the seeds in a bird feeder for your winged friends to enjoy.
Here are some of the nifty ways to protect a bird feeder from squirrels:
Plant eucalyptus around the base of the pole
Squirrels don’t like the way eucalyptus smells. It’s exactly because of this why eucalyptus is one of the most effective all-natural squirrel repellents.
To use eucalyptus to keep squirrels out of a bird feeder, plant some eucalyptus plants around its base. The good news is that growing eucalyptus plants is easy.
What’s so great about planting eucalyptus is that your bird feeder is safe and you have easy access to an effective home remedy for nausea, stomach upset and clogged nose.
Don’t have the time to plant and take care of eucalyptus? Regularly apply eucalyptus essential oil to the pole.
Grease up the pole of the bird feeder
Eucalyptus essential oil doesn’t come cheap. A small 3-ounce bottle of therapeutic grade eucalyptus essential oil can cost anywhere from $6 to $12, depending on the brand.
If you are on a tight budget, fret not.
That’s because you can safeguard a bird feeder from mischievous squirrels by applying cooking oil or grease instead to the pole of the bird feeder.
This will make the pole slippery, giving squirrels a challenge getting to the goodies. And when they get exhausted, squirrels will look for food elsewhere.
Some homeowners also swear by applying dish soap to the pole instead of cooking oil or grease.
Install what’s referred to as a squirrel baffle
Put simply, a squirrel baffle is a contraption designed to keep squirrels from having access to the bird feeder.
They are available in different designs, but those that come in the shape of a dome or cone are the most popular.
Refrain from assuming that all squirrel baffles can work wonderfully. Some of them are not wide enough to deter squirrels.
Others are out of flimsy plastic or metal that squirrels find trouble-free to chew through.
When shopping for a squirrel baffle, opt for one with a wide design and is out of a thick type of plastic or metal.
Also, remember to install a squirrel baffle high enough as squirrels can jump five feet from the ground.
Spice up bird seeds with hot peppers
Capsaicin — it’s the compound in hot peppers that make your entire mouth feel like it’s on fire. Squirrels don’t like that sensation, which is why they will stay away from hot peppers at all costs.
This is why adding a teaspoon of hot pepper flakes or powder to about a bag of bird seed can help keep squirrels from touching a bird feeder.
Worry not because capsaicin does not have the same effect on the mouths of feathered animals as the effect it has on the mouths of squirrels and humans.
Some say that capsaicin can irritate the eyes of birds. This is why you should use hot pepper flakes or powder sparingly and pair it with other squirrel-proofing methods.
When protecting a bird feeder from squirrels
Always remember that the best way to keep a bird feeder off-limits to squirrels is by making sure that squirrels have their own food to eat.
For this, you may install a squirrel feeder that can keep their gnawing mouths busy. You may also regularly offer them nuts, seeds, fruits, leafy greens, root crops, and snack items (in moderation).
By keeping the tiny tummies of squirrels happy, it will be less likely for them to steal from a bird feeder. More importantly, it will be less likely for them to eat birds or their babies or eggs.
And by the way, it will also keep squirrels from attempting to invade your home!
Just Before Birds or Their Eggs Fall Victims
Both squirrels and birds are adorable creatures.
Having them around can be good for your mood and the planet, too, since they help disperse seeds and grow plants and trees.
However, squirrels and birds may fight over the contents of a bird feeder. And, in some instances, squirrels may attack birds and even eat their youngsters and eggs.
To discourage squirrels from turning to birds and their eggs as food, make sure that none of the squirrels on your property will go hungry. You can do this by regularly giving them food or installing a squirrel feeder.
Having a squirrel feeder around can keep those pawed critters from stealing and eating from a bird feeder, which, just like what the name suggests, is intended for birds.
By keeping the tummies of squirrels happy, they can share your property with birds, as well as baby birds and eggs, harmoniously.
Photo credit: ©canva.com
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