Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

I have the most wonderful birdhouse. I love it so much and was thrilled last Spring when a momma bird immediately adopted it as home for her upcoming little ones.

In only a matter of days, we heard the chirping of her baby hatchlings. I felt like a proud grandparent.

And then it happened —

About 3pm one beautiful, sunny afternoon I walked out our front door and was stopped by the most awful sounds – momma and daddy bird screaming hysterically. I had no idea birds could scream so.

But there, hanging out of my beautiful birdhouse was about 2.5 feet of snake swinging back and forth. I watched in horror as the rest of him slithered into the nest.

Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

It was literally three weeks before I could go back out that door. And quite some time before I could take down the birdhouse to clean it out. It was no longer my wonderful birdhouse, but my snake feeder. I did not want a snake feeder.

I know this is how nature works, but I don’t want it to work this way in my yard.

So I began researching how to protect future baby hatchlings – or no more birdhouse for me (definitely no snake feeder).

Low and behold, my garden teacher, Ellen Ashely, gave me the answer.

Slinky!!!

Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

It’s so easy, everyone should be using it. Simply slide a slinky over the post to your birdhouse and the snake can’t slither up. Not only is it easy, but barely detectable.

Safe birds, safe birdhouse, no more snake feeder.

Here you can see the slinky on my newest birdhouse as well  :)

Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

Thanks, Ellen!

 

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45 Responses to Keep Snakes Out of Your Bird House!

  1. Joyce Becker says:

    Did the slinky work to keep snakes out of your bird house?

  2. Karen says:

    Joyce:
    Slinky absolutely works for keeping snakes out of birdhouses! Just make sure the house isn’t near a tree or overhang where the snake can crawl down from the top. But they definitely can’t crawl over it to get up a pole.

    I also use slinky on some of my bird feeders to keep squirrels from climbing up! Works just as well for that.

    Good luck and thanks for asking!

  3. Suzanne says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I had the same experience as you, with bluebirds. Now that I know this idea, I’ll try being a bluebird landlord again. ????
    And there is a funny video going the rounds on Facebook of a frustrated squirrel trying to climb up a bird feeder pole protected by a Slinky. Like an escalator that keeps dropping him to the ground!!

  4. Karen says:

    Thanks for writing, Suzanne. I hope we save a lot of birds, and I’ll look for that video on Facebook!

  5. ruthie says:

    Will the slinky deter raccoons as well? We have raccoons, squirrels, snakes and bluejays. We don’t know what got our bluebird. We had been watching for weeks. We had 4 fledglings we watched every morning and every evening. Then one day we didn’t have any activity so I looked in the box and it was empty. They had just hatched days before.

  6. Karen says:

    I can’t speak about the raccoons, but slinkies do keep out squirrels and snakes. Bluejays could fly right in if they wanted to. Perhaps your bluebirds were old enough to leave the nest? *hope*

    Good luck to you and I’d certainly use the slinky if I were you because they can only help keep out predators!

  7. Cathy says:

    Thank you so much for this idea. We had a black rat snake attempt to get in our birdhouse that hangs in our carport Friday night and we killed it. We’ve lived here for 15 years and have many babies raised in that birdhouse and have never seen that before. Then last night it happened again, a new snake appeared and killed the mama bird and got her eggs. We were devastated! We are going to buy a slinky today!

  8. Karen says:

    Oh, Cathy, I’m so sorry you lost your babies – I know how terrible that feels.

    And I’m thrilled you found my article. I’ve had no more snakes and it even helps keep squirrels out of bird feeders (though their weight tears up the slinky!).

    Thanks for taking the time to share your story.

  9. Ginny leigh says:

    Just experienced a snake in my bird house I have a slinky an 64 oz bottles around my post an it did not stop this snake .so up set he manage to eat one baby. But he want eat another

  10. Karen says:

    Hi Ginny:

    I’m so sorry you lost a baby. I have my birdhouses hanging on shephard’s hooks. The slinky runs from the top to the bottom of the hook so there’s no way a snake can go up that pole. I also don’t put the houses under anything hanging (like tree limbs) so no snakes can come down from above. The houses must be hanging out away from structures that allow snakes to get up. So long as they have only the pole the house is on, the pole can be wrapped with a slinky and the snakes will not go up those.

    Good luck to you going forward and thanks for sharing your story.

  11. Irene says:

    Slinky, what a great idea. I got a new wren house for my bday. While watering my garden I heard the wren screaming. Sure enough there was a snake . I ran outside my fence to get the snake out of the birdhouse. Got the snake out and while carrying the house I fell down the slope and dislocated and broke my ankle. Had surgery this week and will be out of commission for 12 weeks. You can be certain that I will be buying slinkys! Thanks for the great tip.

  12. Karen says:

    Irene:
    I’m so sorry for your accident! I hope the baby birds were saved, at least…

    No good deed goes unpunished!

  13. Jan Byrne says:

    Karen, I can’t thank you enough for this idea! I am terrified of snakes, but I love my flower gardens and birds. Do you have any ideas related to how I can deter the nasty things from the parts of our yard that we frequent? Do you know if that stuff they sell works?

  14. Karen says:

    Hi Jan:
    I have no idea how to keep the snakes out of your yard. I’ve never tried anything. I have a large black snake that I love because he keeps mice, etc. away, but I also have a lot of copperheads that I just try to stay away from!

    I’m happy you now know how to protect you birds nests! Thanks for writing.

  15. Dawn says:

    Karen, thanks so much for your article! I will be investing in slinkies! Last spring I watched in horror as a black snake climbed into a blue bird house on a fence post. I wonder how far away from a fence should I place a new post and house. This black snake is pretty pesky since he also tried to climb the side of the house to get to the nesting swallows. If only he would stick to eating the field mice!! And leave my chicken eggs alone while he is at it!

  16. Karen says:

    Hahaha!

    I realized snakes need to survive, too, but please leave our babies alone!

    Thanks for the comment, Dawn.

  17. Sandra says:

    I just killed a snake that had it’s head in my blue bird house……. My Problem is my birdhouse is attached to a light pole. The babies are still alive ! ! I hope the parents return. I had to do some surgery on the house though… I broke the front but the snake is no longer here and he was 3 1/2 feet long. There were no lumps in the snake to show where he had eaten a baby……….. it was not very big around. Should l move the bird house away from the light pole or find something to go around the pole? This happened 4 years ago but I was too late to rescue the babies. I like the skinny idea..

  18. Karen says:

    Hi Sandra. Can you wrap a slinky around the light pole? Snakes will not try to get over those.

    If not, move the birdhouse. However, if you move it now, the parents may not return.

    Please let us know what happens!

  19. Sandra says:

    I can’t do that the light pole is about 15″ around… I thought about trying the chicken wire waded up…. and wrap it around the pole…. I also saw about the round smooth tin cut to fit around it.. I’m going to get something up as soon as the little ones leave , Thanks. I do love the slinky idea…

  20. Sandra says:

    oh, The parent birds returned as soon as I patched up the bird house. I was so excited. and they have been busy all day feeding the babies !

  21. Sandra says:

    Actually , I can not attach a slinky to the light pole as much as I would like to. It’s an electric light pole ! I saw chicken wire used on one web site… I’ve got to hurry and do something. We have some chicken wire I can try it…. I was extremely excited to see the parent birds return as soon as I patched the bird house up. They have been busy all day feeding the babies.. so it is a successful story.
    Thanks for the suggestions.

  22. Karen says:

    Another option, Sandra, depending where this all is, would be something sharp on the ground like broken glass that the snakes won’t go over.

    Chicken wire is a good idea. Anything sharp will not harm, but will certainly keep the snakes away! Best of luck and I’m so happy the parents returned!!!

  23. Patti says:

    My husband just pulled a snake out of our little bluebird house. The parents are hanging around but not entering. I gently lifted the lid to find 3 untouched eggs. Will the parents return due to the snake or my intrusion?

  24. Karen says:

    Oh, Patti, I certainly hope so! If you read the above comment from Sandra, her bird parents came back.

    I hope you find the slinky a solution so you don’t have future problems. Good luck with your babies and let us know if the parents come back!

  25. Patti Lansinger says:

    Well Karen – The bluebirds did come back yesterday after hovering around for a bit. I did notice when I peeked in the birdhouse yesterday that one of the eggs was not blue but rather off white with some speckles. So today, I peeked again. The nest was completely empty: all the nesting material was gone and there were no eggs. I looked on the ground and discovered all three eggs on the ground. Perhaps the bluebirds rejected the alien egg? In Indiana, the brown-headed cowbird is the only parasitic bird. We have seen such bird on our feeders. Whatever happened, we are very sad.

  26. Karen says:

    That is too sad! I’m so sorry.

    Birds can be extremely protective, even to the point of rejecting a nest because someone looked into it. Truly, I’ve been told to always stay at a distance or the birds will destroy the eggs if there is any indication the area is not safe.

    Hopefully, it’s early enough that you’ll get another nest. Once, I had 3 different hatchings in one birdhouse in a season!

    Thank you for the update.

  27. Ruthie says:

    Last year, a snake ate my two bluebird babies. I caught the snake but nothing I could do. This year, “something” either ate or destroyed three of the eggs and might have eaten the Mom bird because I found a lot of little soft feathers in the house. I have used Snake Mace on the ground around the birdhouse poles. I think maybe this episode was a critter instead of a snake. Just ordered a new birdhouse with critter guard and some baffles for the pole but I am going to try either some wadded up chicken wire or maybe some bird netting as well. I got a snake caught in bird netting once so that does work with a smaller snake. Everything has to eat, but NOT my babies.

  28. Karen says:

    I agree, Ruthie, this is mother nature at work and completely natural, but not my babies!!!

    Try the slinky, if you can. Works 100% of the time for me. Good luck and thanks for sharing your story.

  29. Ruthie says:

    Might be Mother Nature at work, but she needs to find another position because things eating my baby birds is heart breaking. I just bought a new birdhouse with a preditor guard and got poles for the others so I could do the slinky thing…where do you get slinkys? I had one when I was three! A long time ago.
    I have even taken a frog away from a snake. Poor frog was screaming!
    We are certified as a Backyard Habitat by the national Wildlife Federation so I try to make a good life for all creatures but I don’t like them eating each other. At least where I can see it happening. I feed birds, wildlife and feral cats. Who do NOT eat my birds by the way.

  30. Karen says:

    Ruthie:
    You can get slinkies anywhere toys are sold, I think. Maybe Target? I get mine through Amazon.com. I like black because the shepherd’s hooks that I hang the houses on are black and the slinky disappears visually. But the silver work just fine, too.

    Let me know how it works out!

  31. Mary says:

    Thanks for the post. two years ago a bluebird couple decided to nest on my back porch in an a ornamental birdhouse. Thrilled, did not describe my feelings. We protected and were careful about time spent out there as to not disturb them too much and yes baby bird sounds were welcome and loved. Until one night daughter let the dog out and said the dreaded words “mom, I think there is a snake in the birdhouse.” I was horrified and mourned our little family for two full years now. I bought a bluebird house recently because the other parent still hangs around my porch. It is hung about 50 feet from the house and I will be protecting this one. I need all the tips I can get!

  32. Karen says:

    Mary: Thanks for writing!

    I’m so excited about your bluebirds. I understand completely, both the joy over the babies chirping and the horror and grief over the ending…

    There is nowhere safe from snakes. I used to love having birdhouses in trees, but that is the same as feeding them to predators! I had no idea!

    Slinky was my great find. I’m so glad you happened upon this post. Here’s to you and your ever growing family!!!

  33. Jan Brandon says:

    My cat just killed one of nesting bluebirds with four eggs, cannot tell if male or female….can eggs be incubated by a human? Will continue to monitor, if mom alive, can she take care of herself!

  34. Karen says:

    Hi Jan:

    I can’t imagine incubating bird eggs. I would think that can only be done by professionals.

    And once a nest is disturbed, the mother typically will not return.

    I’m so sorry your cat did what cats do. Thanks for writing.

  35. Gianna says:

    I had the EXACT same type problem – a wren house, that my wrens have used for YEARS! I also love to watch the process. Last spring, I realized the baby birds were no longer chirping (the birdhouse is right outside my front door). And I at first thought they’d taken off – IF NOT for the hysterical ONE wren (wasn’t sure if it was the male or female) that came to the top of the birdhouse roof, and yelled, but didn’t go IN – for HOURS this kept up – the one wren, WITH some sort of small insect I’d been used to seeing in the wrens’ mouths, to take into the house to feed the babies. The one wren, with the insect, would dance all over the roof, yelling (like no other yell I’d ever heard from it), but wouldn’t enter. I only saw one wren, not the usual two….and then I began worrying – something was obviously/direly wrong in the hours of the distressed bird. I looked IN the birdhouse and saw something strange at the hole, but couldn’t make it out. It had NOT been there earlier. After another hour (of the wren on the roof, back and forth, bringing insects, but not entering, the “thing” I saw, blocking the entry hole, was NOT there. And 30 mins later, I saw a SMALL rat snake (they ARE around my woodland yard) hanging its HEAD out of the birdhouse hole. The one wren was still in great distress, hours at this point. I then realized, after my daughter looked up things online, that what WAS in the hole, WAS the missing one wren of the pair. We read that once the snake EATS the mother bird (apparently it had already killed the babies) – the snake is too large with a full belly, to exit…..and to shoot a hose into the hole. I did that – the snake’s head retreated. Over and over. WHAT I’d seen in the hole then made sense, the dead bird, the feathers of it….right before the snake devoured it. Then the snakes belly was too large to exit. I shot a hose on the “jet” setting into the hole, continually, and walked away. THIS Went on for about 3 hours more…….I’d go out, the snake’s head would be hanging out, and retreat with the hosing. I was sick to my stomach, and felt horrible for the one parent wren, desperately trying to come “feed” the nest/other parent wren – now all dead. AFTER hours of the hosing, going back in the house to wait, and coming back out, I did not see the snake hanging it’s head out any longer. NOT knowing IF it were gone, I couldn’t take this “murder scene” (knowing one parent wren was dead/eaten and its babies too) – and rather than keep hosing it down, I took a broom to the hook on the tree the house hung from, and dumped the entire birdhouse into a contractor bag. I am supposing the snake was in there, but can’t be sure. I sealed it up and put it in my woods, with a big rock I put on top of it. ONE year later, that bag (undisturbed) is still in my woods – I can’t take seeing it, and don’t want to open it (with a wren, babies remains and possible snake) in there, dead.

    This was one of the most traumatic nature things I’ve experienced, I will never forget it – I felt so bad for the wrens. I never retrieved the birdhouse out of the bag in the woods – I put up a new one and I’ve put duct tape on the pole it hangs from on the tree branch – IF another snake happens by (that was the first time that had ever happened, in years) – I will suppose the snake will stick to the duct tape…..at least, that’s my hope. The wrens are an every-year great thing that nested in that birdhouse – and I question putting up any more – but will try…..

    I am still sickened and traumatized remembering the scene of that one lone parent wren. AFTER I removed the box, the one wren, for TWO DAYS, still came to the branch were the house HAD been before I took it down and put it into the bag in the woods – but the lone parent still was distressed, calling, on that branch, two days after – and then it left.

    I feel so sorry about it, to this day – a horrible thing. I don’t like killing anything, but I can’t have snakes in my birdhouses again. If anyone has a better idea than duct tape, I’d like to hear about it.

    Be careful – hanging them from trees is a problem….giving snakes access – that I only wished I would have known sooner.

    Nature is a beautiful, fascinating thing to watch – and yes, these types of things come with the territory, and very sad to witness. But I have had much more joy than sadness in providing shelter, food and water in my two yards and adjoining woods. You have to take the good with the bad….in observing nature in it’s wild forms…..but it can’t be helped, and the good much outweighs the bad when you help the wildlife with natural things to support their lives.

  36. Brenda Dnford says:

    our bird houses are mounted on twoxfours and then mounted to our rail fence. Can we still use the slinky on the 2×4? We have had 2 blue bird nests invaded by snakes so far this year.

  37. Roger says:

    Actually feral house cats are decimating our songbirds.

  38. Laura says:

    My son has a birdhouse on the post of his side porch. Every year the mama would come and have babies. Last year two snakes got up there and ate the babies and the mom. I was horrified. Last year was the first time they did it. The house has been there for 4 years. My son had to kill both of the snakes. The one snake had a bird inside its stomach. It was disgusting. My grandchildren sit on the porch waiting for the school bus to come and I’m so afraid with the snakes being there. Also, I am deathly afraid of snakes. I am going to try the slinkys to see if that will work. I just can’t understand how a snake cannot go up a slinky? I will try anything. We do not need the snakes on the porch or even come into the house. Thank you

  39. Karen says:

    The slinky will work, Laura. The snakes can’t navigate through them and they last for years!

    Please send us an update.

  40. Karen says:

    Oh, Roger, that’s awful. I don’t know what to do about that – nature at work?

    Thanks for writing.

  41. Karen says:

    I would certainly think they would still work. Perhaps you can nail them down to the boards? Please send a photo of your solution!

  42. Karen says:

    You’re so right, Gianna, this is traumatic.

    And I don’t put birdhouses in trees because they are unprotected from snakes. But using poles with the slinky will absolutely keep snakes away from the houses. Please try this. And enjoy listening to the babies again.

  43. Ruthie says:

    I have the slinkys but my bird houses are on metal poles. I am not sure they will work on 2x4s. The snakes can still climb up on the unprotected side of the 2×4. (IMO). I just bought some snake repellent to sprinkle around the base of the poles. Also, some plastic scat mat with plastic spikes to keep raccoons away from trying to climb. I have lost several nests of bluebird babies and am determined to NOT lose another one. Best of luck!

    Ruthie

  44. Ruthie says:

    I have not had feral cats bothering my birds. We feed the feral cats and also trap, neuter, release. The local shelter has helped me. The cats are neutered and given their vaccines and we keep them fed. I have yet to have a cat bother my birds, but the bigger problem is the raptors. Small hawks. I saw one fly through, snatch a bird off the feeder and disappear in a flurry of feathers. They are so fast. We live in a heavily wooded area so there are lots of predators. One hawk, red tail, even stalked my small dog. I never let him out alone.

    Ruthie

  45. Ruthie says:

    There is a product I have used called Snake Mace. They are granules. I am sure there are other similar products. Sprinkle around under the bird house pole. Can also put some in the toe of a nylon stocking and hang up under the birdhouse.
    I never kill the snakes, but I am sure not happy with their eating habits. We have black rat snakes that can reach 8 feet in length. They keep the field mouse population down.

    Ruthie

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