do bird nests attract snakes

by Holly Grant, NestWatch Project Assistant

Mounting your nest box on a pole is one of the best ways to keep predators out of your boxes. Because of this placement, adding predator guards like baffles—which have been shown to keep climbing animals out of nests—may be easier. In North America, a variety of animals can be found scuttling on nests, including mice, squirrels, raccoons, cats, and even chipmunks. However, snakes are the most hated by the public.

Although one of the best ways to keep snakes out of your nest boxes is to add baffles to the poles, there are situations when mounting boxes on a pole is just not practical. New research indicates a useful new predator guard design for protecting boxes mounted on trees or other wider structures like utility poles.

In Defense of Snakes

Snakes are an often underappreciated group of animals. There are approximately 130 species in North America out of the world’s over 3,000 species. Given that these reptiles mostly consume small mammals, birds, eggs, frogs, insects, and other arthropods, it should come as no surprise that snakes frequently prey on birds during their nesting season. Many people detest snakes simply because of this, but they are an essential component of the ecosystem and can even benefit birds. How? Having snakes around can serve as a natural control and lessen the number of other nest predators, such as mice, chipmunks, small mammals, and even other snakes, even though we may not want them ruining our nest boxes.

The Western Ratsnake managed to get past the predator guard on this nest box.

Although having snakes around can generally be beneficial, it’s still a good idea to keep predators away from your nest boxes. A few nest monitors have attempted to trap the snake, but this could be dangerous for you (e g. , if you have to touch the snake in order to free it), or the snake (e g. , if you do not find it in time). Like birds, snakes are frequently considered legally protected wildlife, so trapping them should only be done in compliance with local laws.

My front porch light has become a favorite nesting spot for a determined Mom and Dad bird (species unknown), but my five baby birds are dead. Since I nearly lost their last offspring to a snake, I made an effort to dissuade them from building another nest by demolishing their previous one. Regretfully, I spend most of my time outside the garage, and before I know it, they’ve constructed a new nest with five more eggs and are circling the front porch once more. I dislike killing anything in my house, not even spiders. But I knew the snakes would be back. In an attempt to keep the snakes away, I placed moth balls and Snake Be Gone all around the porch area. But to my horror, after discovering a big black snake on my porch and no babies, I’m sitting here feeling really upset tonight. I started to kill the snake out of rage, but it escaped, so I let it go. I wanted to share my experience on this website in the hopes that others won’t make the same mistake. I saw them yesterday, watching as their adorable little heads reached out to be cared for by Mama and Daddy Bird. I was excited to show them to my nephew, who is five years old, when he comes around. I believe that since the first nesting, Mama Bird had grown so accustomed to me watering the flowers that she would now just stand by and observe me. Daddy Bird would hang out in the tree next to the house while I talked to her, and all she would do was turn her head and listen. I used to occasionally go outside on the porch at night and just hang out with Mama Bird. I will miss the babies, it seems so unfair. Even if it is natures way. My question to anyone that can help is this. I worry that if they rebuild, I’ll have the same issue again. What will really keep the snakes away? If so, I want to protect them as best I can without getting in the way. I would appreciate any assistance, thanks. Is there a wire or razer I could put on the porch to prevent the snake from crossing?


Are snakes attracted to birds?

Setting out bird feeders and watching birds around your home can be an enjoyable activity. However, birds also attract snakes. In order to keep snakes out of your yard and away from your home, it is best to limit bird feeding during the spring and summer months, typically from April to October.

Do snakes go after bird eggs?

Snakes are frequent predators of bird nests and therefore potentially have an important impact on bird population dynamics. However, while many species are known to consume nestlings and chicks, few species have been recorded consuming bird eggs.

How do I protect my birdhouse from snakes?

The stovepipe, PVC pipe, and cone guards shown below are effective for snake control; the larger the diameter of the guard, the better its effectiveness. A 24-inch piece of hardware cloth placed directly underneath the box also helps.

How do you keep snakes away from bird nests?

In some situations baffles can be placed around trees to prevent climbing predators from reaching the nest. You can also discourage predators from hanging around the area by not leaving food outside.