Do grey squir­rels eat baby birds?

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Q&A - Stu­art Black­man

Not only are grey squir­rels widely be­lieved to eat bird nestlings and eggs, they’re also blamed for oc­cu­py­ing valu­able tree cav­i­ties that could other­wise be used by birds for nest­ing. Un­til re­cently there was lit­tle ev­i­dence ei­ther way, but a study con­ducted by the Cen­tre for Ecol­ogy & Hy­drol­ogy has found that both ef­fects are neg­li­gi­ble. While the squir­rels do eat eggs and chicks on oc­ca­sion, only 0.5 per cent of nests are af­fected. Sim­i­larly, they take over only a small frac­tion of po­ten­tial nest sites. Nei­ther ef­fect is likely to have much im­pact on na­tive bird pop­u­la­tions over­all.

Grey squir­rels get a lot of flak, but eggeat­ing is not their modus operandi.

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