Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs? [ANSWERED]

Squirrels are omnivorous, which means they consume both meat and plant products, and thus, they will eat birds’ eggs. Their primary diet consists of acorns, pines, tree bark, nuts, seeds, and insects. Squirrels can be sighted stealing eggs from chicken coops and unattended bird nests in trees.

When thinking about what squirrels like to eat or what they are most likely to be found eating, we generally equate their diet along the line of nuts, acorns, insects, and vegetables. Now and then, you hear stories or see squirrels with bird eggs, either from your chicken coop or resident nest in the big tree in your back or yard. Has the squirrel accidentally taken the wrong food item in a hurry, or was it intentional?

Squirrels are opportunistic wild rodents and must forage for their food to survive. If food sources in their habitat are scarce due to a high-density population, drought, frost, or deforestation, squirrels will eat bird eggs when given the option.

Follow along with below if you are concerned about your growing colony of squirrels and how they impact your bird population. We discuss a few tips and tricks on best protecting your bird eggs from scavenging squirrels. If you enjoy watching the squirrels’ antics and would like to know more about their diet and why they eat bird eggs, keep reading along, and we will answer your questions. 

squirrel eating out of feeder

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 Why Do Squirrels Eat Bird Eggs?

Squirrels are wild animals (rodents) and classed as omnivorous; they must forage for their food to survive. To fuel their highly active lifestyles, these mammals need to eat various meats and plants. Most of a squirrel’s diet consists of nuts, seeds, buds, fungi, and fruits and is supplemented with meat products such as bird eggs, insects, other small rodents, and sometimes young birds.

If their typical food sources become scarce due to winter, the local squirrel population increasing, destruction of local habitat, or they run out of stored food. Squirrels will look to forage for any available foodstuff and eat bird eggs if they can steal them from the nest. 

The nutritional content of a bird egg is also of importance to a squirrel. Bird eggshells contain calcium, and the inside of the egg is high in proteins and fats, which the squirrel needs to sustain their high energy levels. 

Bird eggs are also a convenient meal for squirrels as they can efficiently run up tree trunks or fly across branches due to their sharp claws and agile bodies.  

What Kind of Birds Eggs Do Squirrels Eat?

The types of eggs that fall victim to squirrels raiding are bird species that nest in conifers and woodlands. Bird species that often have their nests ransacked are songbirds, finches, woodpeckers, wrens, wood pigeons, chickadees, warblers, common starlings, and thrushes.

Fox squirrels are known to ransack American robins’ nests frequently. Squirrels are also known to break into chicken coops and steal chicken eggs. 

Squirrels will avoid raiding a nest if the parent birds are present as they try to avoid a fight with the bird’s sharp beak and claws. So, to ensure that the squirrel has the best chances of getting the eggs, they will raid unattended nests, helping themselves to an egg or juvenile as they are weak.

How To Prevent Squirrels From Eating Bird Eggs

If you are concerned about the local bird population of songbirds or finches that reside in your garden, you can try to keep the local squirrel population out of your garden by:

  • If there is easy access to food, such as using squirrel feeders, the squirrels are less likely to raid birds’ nests when out foraging. Squirrel feeders on a low platform for easy access can be placed around your garden away from bird feeders. Foods that you can put in your squirrel feeder should be similar to their natural diets. You can feed squirrels nuts such as hickory nuts, walnuts, beechnuts, and acorns.
  • If squirrels are raiding your bird feeders, you can purchase birdseed that contains pepper, as squirrels hate it. Birds are unfazed by the pepper and will continue to eat the pepper birdseed.
  • You can place your bird feeders away from trees or any structure that makes it easy for squirrels to access them.
  • If you enjoy the bird population and have a birdhouse, you can decrease the size of the opening of the birdhouse to accommodate the birds using it while making it more difficult for squirrels to get in and steal the eggs.
  • If squirrels are getting into your chicken coop, try collecting the eggs regularly, cleaning up any spilled feed, or getting a livestock guardian animal to protect your eggs. 
  • Squirrels despise the strong scents of peppermint, garlic, and pepper. Try planting peppermint plants near your birdhouse or in areas that you don’t want the squirrels to go. These strong scents are known to scare away squirrels. 

In theory, a well-fed squirrel will be unlikely to go foraging in your chicken coops, aviaries, or nests to steal bird eggs. Moving around and modifying your birdhouses or adding foods and scents squirrels do not appreciate should help eliminate them from your garden or areas you do not want them to go in.  

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Squirrels are fascinating, entertaining, and mostly harmless mammals to watch at home, in parks, and in woodlands. That being said, squirrels will eat bird eggs and baby birds if hungry and if there is not enough food to forge. 

You can achieve harmony between your squirrel and your bird population in your garden. Try adding multiple squirrel feeders in your yard with some of their favorite nuts and seeds or using deterrents like strong scents and modified birdhouses to keep them out of your yard. 

If you are concerned about the impact on your wild bird population or squirrels are raiding your aviaries or chicken coops, follow a few of our tips and tricks for keeping squirrels away. Our rule of thumb is that a well-fed squirrel stays away.