Protect the Nest: Do Snakes Eat Birds and Eggs?

Updated: Jul. 10, 2023

If you attract nesting birds, you may worry that snakes eat birds and eggs. Learn how to lower the risk. Also learn if birds eat snakes.

Stop Snakes From Eating Birds

do snakes eat birdsPhoto by Laura Kalcheff/Getty Images
Snakes do eat birds but you can help protect their nest boxes

“How can I stop snakes from eating baby birds and eggs in my yard, without harming the snakes?” asks Birds & Blooms reader Peggy Thompson of Granville, Illinois.

Birding experts Kenn and Kimberly Kaufman write, “Eggs and baby birds are vulnerable to a variety of predators, including snakes. Rat snakes, corn snakes and others eat many mice but also climb trees to find bird nests.

When you set up a nest box, protect it by placing a baffle on the pole below the box, wide enough to prevent snakes and other predators from climbing. (Don’t put grease or oil on the pole, because birds can be harmed if it gets on their feathers.)

Unfortunately, there’s no good way to keep predators away from nests in natural situations, such as in shrubs or trees. But native predators such as snakes are a part of nature, and birds that lose their first brood often will make another attempt in a safer location.

“When mounting birdhouses, I add baffles to eliminate predators like snakes and raccoons. I don’t want any brokenhearted mammas!” says reader Mary Rutherford of Pineville, North Carolina.

Backyard Tip: The majority of snakes are totally harmless to people and are important backyard predators. Practice tolerance for them in your yard, and you’ll foster a healthy ecosystem.

Keep your yard safe from hummingbird predators.

Do Birds Eat Snakes?

Bnbbyc17 Judith CernakCourtesy Judith Cernak
Adult great horned owls will eat snakes

Great horned owls aren’t too picky about what they eat and their diet is expansive. According to the Kaufmans, these big owls capture a wide variety of prey, from insects and snakes to groundhogs and skunks.

These two great horned owls (above) in Palm Harbor, Florida, were protecting their owlet from a snake that was slithering up a huge live oak. A truly once in a lifetime experience. Their eyes never left the owlet or the snake,” says Judith Cernak.

One of the most remarkable southwestern species, the greater roadrunner, eats just about anything it can catch. Roadrunners are famous for eating snakes (even rattlesnakes!) and lizards, but they also go after insects, spiders, scorpions, mice and even small birds.

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