Monday, August 15, 2011


Yucky warning.

I know carnivores must eat other creatures to survive. Humans eat cows, pigs and chickens but except for the hunters or farmer, most of us only see the results in a plastic wrapper. We don't pull the trigger, draw the knife, wring the necks or swing the club.

Animals don't have super markets. The bigger,swifter and stronger tend to eat the smaller,weaker and slower. The food chain is quite defined. Even house pets eat birds and baby bunnies.

I grew up in the era of the Disney wildlife shows where the fox tries to catch the little rabbit and just misses by a hare (pun intended). The commentator always said, "The rabbit narrowly escapes to live another day.  Mrs. Fox  will try again  and hopefully be able to bring home dinner for her hungry kits before the day ends.”  We never had to watch a successful attempt. Killing and eating was implied.

 Wildlife shows are now days much more graphic. The kill is filmed in full detail which is one reason I can no longer watch those types of show. I do have a bit of ostrich in me. What I don't see, doesn't happen. What I am about to show you, I wish I hadn't seen. This is your last chance to bail.

The other day as I walked around the property I saw a very disgusting sight. I leave the bird houses up all year for late breeders or just those who use it for a night time condo. This one has been visited regularly by a small sparrow. I wasn't sure what her use for the house was but I think I now have an idea.

I saw this strange handle hanging out the hole. Closer look determined it was 
obviously a snake. I touched its tail and it zoomed all the way into the house. That had to be a tight fit for this was about a 3 foot snake. Pretty sure it wasn't there for the view.

In a nearby tree was the frantic sparrow. I didn't know if she had eggs or babies in there but she was very upset. I'm thinking eggs for I didn't see any bulges in the snakes belly.

The focus isn't good but it was really moving fast to get away from me.
I opened the box, got the snake out fairly easily with a hoe handle and it slithered off. When I checked the nest it was empty of all but a few feathers. Sadly I was too late and that sparrow no longer visits the birdhouse.

I would never hurt the snake for it was a harmless one (unless you are a baby bird) and they do keep the rodent population in check.  Still, I hope I never have to witness that again.

I just realize that this post was close to  un-Disney like also. At least the murder was implied and not shown which is still Disneyesque.   Sometimes my need to share goes too far. Forgive me if I have grossed you out.  

Now I need to work on a snake guard for my bird houses.  Any tried and true methods out there??


  1. Oi, Patty that's a nasty discovery! I am glad I don't live in a country with snakes any more. You are very brave.

  2. I'm like an ostrich too, Patti, but now you have me worried. We have black snakes of that size also and 6 bird houses. I wonder if the baffles used under bird feeders would work.

  3. Oh, what a sick feeling that must have been!

    My husband puts an icky sticky goop of teflon grease or motor oil to keep the damnsquirrels from being able to climb our feeder poles.

    However, I think I've read that chicken wire wrapped around the bird house (with an opening just large enough for mama bird) would make it too onerous a task for predators to gain entry.

  4. Nothing surprises me except for the fact that you didn't kill the snake. And no, you cannot have Dan Uggla back :)

  5. Hey Patti, brave you! Our friends got a 6 foot chicken snake out of a little birdhouse and they are still trying to figure out how that huge snake was able to get his whole body in there! :)

  6. Such a bummer! I am glad you did not kill the snake though. They do have a good role in the food chain (except for the bird part).

  7. It's not an easy thing knowing the way the food chain really functions, is it? It's one reason I'm a vegetarian (actually a pescatarian, since I eat fish). I don't watch those shows any more, either.

    But my bird feeders attract hawks who figure a nice little fat bird would make a tasty snack. And I once saw a crow catch and eat a sick bird. It's the way the world works. For some reason, snakes seem more awful, though. It was just doing its own thing, so I'm glad you didn't kill it, either.

  8. Too bad we can't just wish the world into being a safe, perfect place for every creature we like. Just yesterday I found a dead dismembered bird next to my front door when I went out to do errands. I'm sure the culprit was a neighbohood cat we see in our bushes sometimes. My husband picked it up but I have the picture in my mind still.

  9. Same thing happened to one of our birdhouses last year....nature at it's worst...!!

  10. Just when i think I have seen or heard of everything...I miss the Wild Kingdom days. I really have no desire to see predators with blood all over their faces.

  11. Gee...that is really shocking! I have a bird house just like yours...on a post just like yours, but the post is part of a fence, but still. I do have those snakes around here as well. UGH!!!!

    So, for a solution, I am thinking good old fashioned building flashing. The stuff they use around the chimney to keep water out. It is very bendable and easy to nail and shape however you like. I would make an upside-down cone shape to keep anything going up the pole from getting past it.

  12. You're so brave, Patti! I really get creeped out by snakes. Yes, nature can be pretty brutal. I don't like watching the nature films where lions chase zebras or gazelles. I know it's all a necessary part of the food chain, but still... Rattlesnakes are abundant here. Some people have found them on their patios or curled on a doormat (yikes!). So far, I haven't seen any and would be very happy if I didn't anytime soon!

  13. Yes, the snake guards for all those nests on posts, we put them up in Arkansas for our bluebird houses when we saw a black rat snake in our wisteria tree and just knew he could get up the posts where the bird houses were. I can't remember if we used some metal facing down or plastic or something, with nails so it wouldn't fall down and not too close to the ground either.

    Good for you for not killing the snake though. He'll be eating rats and mice too.

  14. I've had the same thing happen to one of my bluebird houses. In fact, I caught the black snake red-handed crawling up the post. I admit to killing him, I'm not brave enough to try to move one and it wasn't going to be scared off. He had a mission in mind. And touching one? You are a brave woman, Patti! I couldn't do it. I'll be watching to see what others come up with for a snake guard.

  15. A little while ago I came across a fawn that had been killed by a predator (probably a mountain lion). I love the deer and they hang out on my land all the time, but the lions also love the deer because they are a good source of protein!

    I was all upset and trying to think of someone who might come out and try and shoot the dang lion, but then remembered that they have to eat also! And, you're right, they don't have a supermarket where they can buy venison in nice little plastic wrapped containers...

  16. I have to say that your story made me shudder and feel sad for the mummy bird but you are right is just the natural cycle of animal life....and I'm off to have Venison burgers for supper. xx

  17. Sad post, but such is life! Aren't you glad we're on the TOP of the food chain? I'm assuming none of your followers live in the jungle.

  18. Sorry but I've never even heard of a snake guard! And I think you're quite brave to get him out. :) blessings, marlene

  19. Hi Patti,

    Wow! I'm glad that we don't have very many snakes here in La Pine (the temp extremes keep them away), or I would be freaked out about walking past a bird house in my yard NOW. I've never heard of them going in there before. Very smart of that snake.

    I'm not sure what would work to keep them out if they get their minds made up. Poor babies and poor mama bird.

    Have a great week!

    Kathy M.

  20. Oh My Goodness... Poor little sparrows... I'm so sorry.. I luckily have only seen two little snakes since we have lived here. So---we don't have any snake guards. We do have a baffle on our bird box pole --and never have problems --so far! Google 'snake guards' and see what you can find... I'm sure there is something. Good Luck.

  21. Is there such a thing as a snake guard?

  22. There is something scary about snakes, and I'm not sure why, because I live in a country that doesn't have them so they are of no threat to me! When I've seen them on films, I have always been amazed at how they move so rapidly and gracefully, they seem to flow across the ground.

  23. Actually, seeing the snake almost did me in - don't think I could have removed it! The law of Nature prevails, I guess. Poor Mama Sparrow! Gosh, you wonder how the snake "knew" they were up there!

  24. Reader Wil,
    It is always strange to hear of snake free places. I guess New Zealand is also one. Lucky you.

    I have done a lot of research today and will try a stove pipe baffle. Hope it works.

    Thanks, I am leaning towards hardware cloth and a stove pipe right now.

    Now you are seeing the Dan we knew and loved. Enjoy and take care of our fellow. We just couldn't afford him.

    So good to hear from you. I thought you might have given up blogging.
    They are flexible aren't they.

    Unless they are poisonous and threatening me or my animals, I don't mind sharing space with them. I just need to provide better protection for the birds.

    I recently went ovo-lacto myself.
    Here we have to watch out for the Roadrunners. They beat the smaller birds to death. Not pretty either. Main reason I don't feed in the warm months. Makes it too easy for the preditors.

    Sadly, that cat was bringing you a present. That never is pretty.

    Blue Ridge Boomer,
    It really is an ugly scene. I hope to be able to prevent more attacks.

    I wonder who does watch those. Someone must or they wouldn't keep showing them. Ah the good old non- violent days.

    I do have some aluminum flashing that I may try. Making a tube and plugging the holes with hardware cloth seems it might work. Thanks.

    Dr.Kathy McCoy,
    We had lots of rattlesnakes in Florida. Here the poisonous snake is a copper head. So far I haven't seen one. This was just a rat snake. Harmless unless you ask the birds.

    Linda Starr,
    The snakes do more good than harm and generally we never see the bad stuff. I am working on a solution now.

    This fellow wanted no part of me and quickly slithered off. Hopefully I can keep him out of the birdhouses and he can concentrate on mice.

    Rocky Mountain Woman,
    Wow, that would have been hard to see. I love deer. Your first instict is anger at the killer but he is just making a living.
    Hope he ranges away from your area.

    Ah, you must be a hunter or know one. I have no problem with hunting for food. Killing only for trophy is another story.

    We are on top as long as we are armed. There are some bears and cougars that think we are a bit lower. Being eaten is on my list as least favorite way to go.

    I am researching that now and have found some help on the Net. I was too angry to be frightened.

    Oregon gifts.
    I hadn't thought about that but I guess the almost constant cold wouldn't be much fun for a cold blooded creature. Interesting.

    I have spent a lot of time on the Net and there are answers out there. Most can be home made so I will try. Thanks.

    I am finding out that there is and just need to get some supplies to try to make one.

    You and Reader Wil have made me realize that snakes do not populate the world. Good to know. You aren't missing much though maybe a larger rodent population with out them. They do move like Mercury being poured.

    I wondered that very thing. They can sense vibrations so maybe that gave the nest away. I truthfully don't know.

  25. Ugh! You got a real shiver out of me, and I don't mean that in a good way. Ugh again! Poor baby birds! I've never heard of a snake doing something like that, but apparently they do. I don't know how you can save the birds, but it appears that others have offered some reasonable suggestions. Good luck. Ugh. Still shivering.

  26. I've never seen a black snake going in the bird houses, but I have seen them in trees stealing eggs or baby birds from nests.
    Nature can be cruel and I don't like to witness such acts.

  27. I share those ostrich tendencies, too. A riviting post!I may have been screeching, though!

  28. I never every living thing has a part in the food chain but I try not think about it. I feel sorry for the mama bird. Glad you got the snake out and gone though. Hope you figure out a good way to keep the snakes out of the bird houses. Hugs nose kisses for Mighty!

  29. I've never done battle with a snake over a bird house but I've had many a battle with rats and squirrels over birdhouses.

  30. MY Gosh!
    My mom would totally freak out as in completely!!!

    good thing she didn't see this post! To bad he allready eat all the baby birdies, but how did he get up there? just made his way up the post??


  31. Yuck! My motto is the only good snake is a dead snake ... period.

    I am not fond of mice and rats, either. But Luckie's choice of chipmunks and baby rabbits are naseationg.

    The only good thing about the ice storm is the trees, base of which was home for chippies, are gone. and the rabbit family must have moved out of the area.

  32. I was just passing through and popping on blogs that I've never been on before. So greetings folks from Lebanon county's Amish community. Richard

  33. Lisa,
    I am sorry about those shivers, unless it is really hot where you are:))
    Snakes do have that effect on a lot of people.

    Sweet Virginia Breeze,
    This was a first for me and I do hope a last.

    You could screech and Lisa could shiver. I was disgusted but snakes don't bother me. Ostrich is good.

    I am working on a solution now and hope to be finished tomorrow. The mama bird is back repairing the nest. She isn't too bright so I'd best hurry.

    This is my first that I know of. The baffel that I am working on should keep the rats and squirrels out also.

    That amazed me also for it is on a straight wooden 4x4 post about 6 feet off the ground no where near trees. You have to give him credit for effort it had to take.

    I really don't mind snakes, in fact that is only the second one I have seen. In fact the first sighting might have been this one.
    What with the mice eating my car wires, I'll let him stay.

    Amish Stories,
    I have visited your site Richard and know I will be back. Very interesting.

  34. Mother nature can be cruel at times...I found a frog hanging out of a black snakes mouth yesterday...ugh...sorry for Ms Sparrow's babies...but I am glad you didn't harm the snake...I will read your follower's comments, as I don't have any answers -- I leave my boxes and roosting pockets up year-round as well.

  35. Thank goodness I've never found a snake in the birdhouse. I have battled, and won, the squirrels over the birdfeeder. Crisco on a cold metal pole worked really well. I did feel sorry for the poor squirrels, even though they were fat as could be.

    I guess I'm the one that watches the nature shows. The meerkat series was brutal, but honest. I cried when one of my favorites died.

  36. Eww! You're so brave! That's one thick snake!

  37. If it was a house sparrow (not technically a sparrow) the snake did you a favor. House sparrows are non-native birds introduced from Europe that wreak havoc on native species such as tree swallow and bluebirds. They can and do kill adults (I have pictures of this) and will destroy eggs and young. Last year they killed a brood of eastern bluebirds not a day or two old. That said, the snake would also eat native birds, so coming up with a guard would be a good idea. Old sheet metal should do the trick, similar to this:

    The snake is beautiful. Do you know what species it is?

  38. Snakes do like eggs and baby birds sometimes. Black snakes are particularly bad about that. Around here something gets the eggs, but I think it is a raccoon. So much for city living.

    Your one consulation is that is was probably payback time for the sparrow. Sparrows are very bad about picking on other birds.

    A baby caterpillar fell on me yesterday. I felt sorry for it about one minute until I realized it had been stripping my rose bush. I smashed it in my kleenex. Nature red in tooth and claw. Dianne

  39. Reality is not always pleasant. I keep reminding myself that everything has to eat to live. You're more brave than I, Patti. I would have had a hard time even taking a photo of a snake in a birdhouse, much less getting it out and on its way.

  40. I Wonder Wye,
    I worked today hopefully fixing the problem.
    I had seen a snake and a frog before also. The frog was going in butt first and was screaming like a kitten. That was awful.

    Amber Star,
    Those meerkats were adorable but I couldn't take the harshness of nature in that series.

    Lynda G.
    He really filled up the hole didn't he. He was much more scared of me.

    Thank you for the link. I have done a similar thing with hardware cloth.
    He was a black rat snake.
    Order: Squamata
    Family: Colubridae
    Genus/species: Elaphe obsoleta obsoleta

    I know they are Hell on Bluebirds but I still can't destroy the nests like a lot of people can. Too soft hearted.

    It was such a bizarre sight I had to get a picture. Hopefullly I never see it again. It was just doing what a snake does.

  41. Interesting. Law of the jungle as it were. It's when the Social Darwinists apply the laws of the country to benefit the rich and powerful that I get grossed out.

  42. troutbirder,
    I am in total agreement with you.

    Linda Myers,
    Oddly, she is back rebuilding the nest. I have installed the snake guard so hopefully there are no repeats.

  43. WOW! Are you the bravest person I know or what? And you got pictures for us too. Fantastic!

  44. Kay,l
    Thanks for thinking so but I would have only been brave had I been afraid of snakes and still moved him out of the nest. Had I banished a nest of spiders, then I would have been brave.

  45. You must be very fast and have a keen eye too and travel the yard with a point and shoot device. Shoot has a taken on a less deadly outcome luckily for the snake. Sadly the sparrow had to lose out :(

  46. Patti....Just wanted to tell you that I have been concerned about you and The Hurricane....And with you feeling so poorly--I dearly hope the IRENE has passed you by with NO damage to youy or your house! I'm sorry to leave a comment here but I wasn't able to leave one on your last post....Forgive me. I just wanted to let you know I am thinking of you, my dear.