House Wrens have occupied the bluebird house that is attached to a post at the edge of the woods in front of our house. This morning I could tell by the sweet, exuberant chattering coming from inside the house that the babies are very nearly ready to fledge. The parents have been busy continuously bringing the incredible amounts of food needed for them to grow. This creates almost constant commotion around the little house.
This morning I was out with the dogs and heard one of the little wren parents having an absolute FIT. I looked up to see her on top of the wire raccoon guard just outside the entrance to her nest. She was jumping back and forth wildly. Her desperate calls rang out through the woods.
Naturally I had to investigate. Although I was already pretty close to the birdhouse, I knew that I was not the one upsetting her. I have been around this house quite a bit, and she has not been overly bothered by me. I wandered over and looked inside the tiny house entrance. What I saw when I looked in was NOT what I expected!
Filling the round entrance of the house was what at a glance looked like a dark thick rope that was curled just enough that the round part was sticking out of the hole. It didn’t take long for me to realize that a snake had somehow made it’s way up the post and into the house. I could smell an unpleasant odor coming from inside. Things were not looking good for the wrens.
It is my policy to not interfere with nature. I like wrens. I also like snakes. Everyone out there has a tough living to make. It is my privilege to watch any scenario as it plays out in nature as an unbiased bystander, even when the end result is a sad one for one of the parties. But something struck me on this day. Maybe I was in an unusually sentimental mood, I don’t know. I decided to remove the front of the house and see what was going on inside. All this time the little wren continued screaming from nearby tree branches.
(Below) this is the scene that was unveiled when the front of the bird house came off. There was one dead baby on top of the nest. The entire contents in the box, including the snake was motionless.
After some time passed, I stepped back a bit. Now exposed, the snake was feeling pressure to better hide himself or leave. He slipped out through a slit in the back of the house which is likely how he got in there in the first place. The brave little wren came charging down to deal with the situation herself. She was amazingly tenacious. Songbirds are fiercely devoted and protective parents.
(Below) A protective parent and a hungry serpent are in a temporary standoff. The wren’s wildly focused aggression and the newly exposed nature of the nest eventually discouraged the snake.
The snake decided to retreat back inside of the house for safety from his aggressive little foe. He hid behind an old wasp nest. But this was the wrong move to make. The wren just turned her volume up a few more notches. He was close to her babies again and this simply was not acceptable!
In time the snake finally found himself outmatched and decided to get the heck outta Dodge. I didn’t notice until I looked at the pictures of him on my computer that his eyes were milky. This means that he has out grown his clothing and is getting ready to shed his skin.
After the snake left all was quiet. For a long while I had surmised that the snake had already constricted all of the babies by the time I got there. But slight movement way down into the nest revealed that some of the babies were still in there and were alive. I quickly removed the dead one (and pitched it into the woods to become food for perhaps the same snake?) and promptly placed the front of the house back on. It will be interesting to see if any baby wrens fledge from this brood after the standoff at the O.K. Corral…