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How to Take Care of a Chickadee-Eating Snake

Something was up at the Bluebird house, and Bob aimed to find out what.

A Chickadee recently constructed a nest of moss and animal hair in our front yard Bluebird box, and hatched some yellow-beaked chicks. When Bob and I had occasion to sit on the front porch, we would see her flying into the box with food, leaving with plump, white poop sacks.

But on Thursday, a pair of Bluebirds were taking turns sitting atop the the wooden house and fluttering over to the hole to peer inside. Every time I raised the binoculars to my eyes, I was afraid I’d see one of them enter the box, imagining that they had nefarious plans for those tiny, helpless hatchlings. Eventually I got on with my day and put the matter out of my mind.

The next day Bob and I stopped at the box during a lap around the yard. “Should I look inside?” he asked.

“I wouldn’t,” I said. I had read that Chickadees are far more easily disturbed than Blue Birds and I felt they had been traumatized enough.

He considered this for a moment before undoing the hook and eye latch.

We stood and gaped at the coiled black snake resting comfortably atop the soft nest, happily digesting away.

Without missing a beat, Bob reached into the box and tugged the nest out. The snake landed in a tangled pile and he stepped in close to snap a picture before it could sort itself out.

So ensued a standoff between man and beast.

The badassed black snake got organized, raising itself up in a startlingly aggressive manner.

He/she flattened his/her head into a triangle and thrummed its tail on the ground in order to appear more threatening.

And began to strike at my intrepid spouse.

At this point, we fetched a bucket, a lid, and a rake and Bob wrangled the snake inside.

Snake in a bucket

And then I carried the bucket deep into the woods and released the irritated snake to start a new life far away from our Bluebird box.

By Camille Armantrout

Camille lives with her soul mate Bob in the back woods of central North Carolina where she hikes, gardens, cooks, and writes.

6 replies on “How to Take Care of a Chickadee-Eating Snake”

Wow nice shots. Sad for the birdies though. It’s a toss up for me when it comes to reptiles vs. their prey because I love both. Good for you relocating it and not killing it instead. It looks like a male to me, seeing that the tail is extra long. In my years of experience, this is actually one of the more foolproof ways of figuring out the sex of a snake rather than probing it. Males have a longer skinnier tail from the vent to the end and females are more blunt. Sorry about your birdies 🙁

Yeah, baby! Life and death drama in the yard. Living the discover channel…

Thanks for sexing our nemesis, Steph. When I thought of the snake as a female, I was more inclined to give her a pass. “Well, she’s feeding eggs,” I thought. But guys have to live, too. What a world.

Life, death, and drama indeed. Nature raw in tooth and claw. Something tells me we’re not in Disneyland anymore, Toto!

wow!! that video! and photos! amazing, y’all wrangled the situation and expertly documented!

Thank you, Amy Dear! Wish you were here for that piece of high drama. I love you!

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