Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Memorable Memorial Day Weekend, 2012

We had a busy holiday weekend with many activities, including hauling this black snake out of a bluebird nesting box.

On my way down to the garden out back I noticed the bluebirds and tree swallows calling widely and mobbing around a bluebird box we installed on one of the main fence posts around our vegetable garden. This snake had only about a third of its body in the box when I began pulling it back out. It took about ten minutes to coax it out as I didn't want to hurt it by pulling on it too roughly. I showed the snake to Ally and then released it in the ravine on the other side of the house, away from the bird boxes.

Black snakes are non-venomous and not aggressive. I was already wearing my garden gloves when I first noticed the snake so I didn't worry too much about a bite to my hand. This one managed to get its head free twice and would turn around to face me, but it never tried to strike even while I was clumsily trying to catch it behind the head again. Its skin was super glossy, slick, and supple, so I don't think it had been too long since it had last shed.

As for the bird nest, a female bluebird kept returning to the box and flying around but would not go into it. I don't know if there were young chicks or just eggs in the box, or how many the snake ate before I arrived. The birds may have abandoned the nest entirely at this point. While I hate to lose any bluebirds, I know a black snake is a good predator of mice and voles, too.

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