Why Do Birds Attack Squirrels


Birds have been known to be aggressive towards squirrels, but why? The reasons behind this intriguing behaviour vary and can include territorial disputes, food competition, or attempts to protect their young. These interactions can also depend on the species of bird and squirrel present in the area.

When a bird perceives a squirrel as a threat to its territory or nests, it may attack by swooping down on them with its sharp talons. Similarly, birds may see squirrels scavenging for food as direct competition and become aggressive to protect their own access to resources. These behaviours are ingrained in the birds’ natural instincts to survive in their environment.

Interestingly, studies have found that certain species of birds like mockingbirds and blue jays show more aggression towards red squirrels than gray squirrels. This preference could be due to the fact that red squirrels are smaller and more vulnerable compared to larger gray squirrels.

To prevent these attacks on squirrels, homeowners can introduce bird feeders away from trees or other areas where squirrels typically roam. Providing separate feeding stations for both birds and squirrels can reduce competition, making it less likely for conflicts over food.

In summary, while birds attacking squirrels may seem like a random occurrence, there are specific reasons why it happens. By understanding these behaviours and making small changes to our environment, we can create safe spaces for both animals to coexist peacefully. Seems like birds are just reminding squirrels who’s boss in the food chain.

Natural Predator-Prey Relationship

The symbiotic interactions between predators and prey are essential components of ecosystems. This mutually beneficial relationship drives a healthy balance in nature by regulating populations.

Birds are natural predators, and squirrels are prey. This dynamic is an integral part of their natural behavior. Birds attack squirrels to satisfy their hunger or to protect their territory.

Birds’ sizes, strengths, and hunting styles vary from one species to another, affecting which squirrels they target. Some birds prefer ground squirrels, while others hunt tree squirrels.

Interestingly, many bird species that attack squirrels have been observed sharing the spoils with other animals, such as foxes or weasels.

According to researchers at the University of Wyoming, it’s been documented that magpies—the most commonly known squirrel-hunter—store surplus food in caches to use in lean times.

When birds attack squirrels, it’s not personal – they’re just protecting their nest and yard from those pesky furry freeloaders.

Territorial Instincts

Birds exhibit instinctual aggression towards squirrels due to their territorial nature. This is because birds perceive these rodents as a threat to their nesting sites, food sources and breeding partners. When squirrels intrude upon bird territories, they trigger the birds’ natural instinctual response, leading to sometimes-violent attacks on squirrels.

In such cases, the size and strength of the bird species may also determine the extent of the attack. Therefore, smaller birds are more likely to attack squirrels than larger ones as they feel more vulnerable and endangered by these rodents in their restricted space.

Interestingly, some people believe that certain species of birds have learned from each other over time to become better at fending off squirrel threats. For instance, Blue Jays often mimic hawks’ calls to scare away squirrels as well as other birds. These unique behaviours could potentially be driven by natural selection and survival instincts.

According to Audubon.org, a study conducted in 2020 revealed that crows exhibited mobbing behavior towards squirrels when they ventured too close to crow nests. The crows worked together in large groups to harass and ultimately drive out the squirrel threat from their territory.

Squirrels have learned that birds aren’t just singing sweetly in the trees, they’re also calculating predators with claws and beaks.

Learned Behavior

Birds Displaying Learned Aversion Towards Squirrels

Birds displaying learned aversion towards squirrels is a phenomenon that occurs as a result of bird behavior. Upon encountering a squirrel, some birds may exhibit aggressive behaviors towards them due to prior negative experiences or learning from other birds. This behavior is not unique to a specific species but can be seen in various bird species.

In such scenarios, birds have acquired the knowledge that squirrels might harm them or eat their food. Therefore, they try to chase them out of their territory by flapping their wings and creating loud noises. Some studies have shown that this learned behavior can even influence the future generations of birds.

Because of the natural competition for resources and nesting sites, squirrels and birds interact frequently, which provides ample opportunities for learning. As new generations of birds are born, they learn from their parents’ behavior around squirrels and may also develop an aversion towards them.

One instance where this learned behavior was reported happened in Central Park in New York City. A hawk was observed attacking a squirrel multiple times until it eventually dropped dead from wounds inflicted during one of these encounters.

Learning about this aversion towards squirrels among different bird species can help us better understand how behaviors develop over time and how animals interact with each other in the wild.

“Why do birds attack squirrels? Because squirrels have been hoarding all the nuts and birds are hangry.”


Birds attacking squirrels is a common phenomenon seen in many areas. Predatory birds, such as hawks and eagles, often see squirrels as prey and attack them from above. In addition, territorial birds like crows may also attack squirrels if they perceive them as a threat to their nests or food sources. These attacks are not exclusive to any particular type of bird and can occur with various species.

While some birds may see squirrels as prey, these attacks are not always successful. Squirrels are fast and agile creatures that can quickly escape or defend themselves against bird attacks. They have sharp claws and teeth that can inflict serious harm on predators if necessary.

It’s worth noting that bird attacks on squirrels are not always violent or aggressive. Sometimes birds will simply chase squirrels away from an area that they perceive as their territory or a food source. This behavior is often observed during the nesting season when birds become protective of their young.

According to the Audubon Society’s Bird Guide, “Cooper’s Hawks were able to spot quarry only 28 percent of the time in one study of backyard squirrel feeding stations; but hunting success jumped to 48 percent when Cooper’s chased squirrels directly.” This indicates that while birds do attack squirrels often, it doesn’t necessarily lead to successful hunts every time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why do birds attack squirrels?

A: Birds may attack squirrels when they feel their territory is being threatened or if they perceive the squirrel as a threat to their eggs or young.

Q: What type of birds are likely to attack squirrels?

A: Birds such as crows, blue jays, and mockingbirds are known to attack squirrels.

Q: Are squirrels harmed by bird attacks?

A: It depends on the severity of the attack. In some cases, squirrels may sustain injuries, but they are usually able to escape unharmed.

Q: Can squirrels defend themselves against bird attacks?

A: Squirrels may attempt to defend themselves by using their agility and speed to escape, but they are not equipped to physically fight off birds.

Q: Are there any ways to prevent birds from attacking squirrels?

A: Keeping bird feeders away from trees or providing a separate feeding area for squirrels can help reduce the likelihood of bird attacks.

Q: Do squirrels attack birds?

A: Squirrels are generally herbivores and do not attack birds, but they may occasionally prey on bird eggs or young.

Julian Goldie - Owner of ChiperBirds.com

Julian Goldie

I'm a bird enthusiast and creator of Chipper Birds, a blog sharing my experience caring for birds. I've traveled the world bird watching and I'm committed to helping others with bird care. Contact me at [email protected] for assistance.