Rat Snake in my Bluebird House

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      I am a new member from Virginia Beach, VA. I’m a novice bluebird fan, but got really lucky with a family that was on their second year in a house I installed several years ago. I believe they were on their 3rd nest of the summer, but on Saturday a rat snake entered the house and ate the mother and her 4 fledglings. I removed the snake but it was too late. I’m super sad about this, and I have seen the male several times but he is not entering the house. I plan to install the house onto a pole that is snake proof. My question is, should I remove the nesting material? The snake was all over the nest, not sure he left a scent, etc. Snake was huge, I released him into the creek that we live on and he headed to my neighbors house. :)

      Thanks for your help.


      Bill, Welcome to the forum. Sorry to hear about the snake. There are several posts on the forum about mounting a nestbox, using a baffle and other deterrents.
      You should remove the old nest after each group of fledgling have left the nest. Dispose the nest in the garbage or far away from he nestbox so you don’t attract predators. I usually scrub the inside of my nestbox with a “Liquid Green” spray and a scrub brush to clean out the mess that the young birds make. Let it dry completely before mounting it again.

      It is probably too late for another nesting this year but you might want to leave the box up for winter protection if the blues do not migrate. Clean it out again in the spring for the new season.

      Stafford, VA


        Hello Bill. I am so sorry the family was lost. I’m sure the male must know this. I am new to bluebirds, but I am not new to birdwatching. A family of crows attracted my interest over 10 years ago. I watched them and became completely fascinated by their intelligence. They actually watched me back! They arrived outside my window every morning eager for the leftovers I would feed them. Over the course of those 10 years the family grew and changed yet they always knew me. When one was hit by a car, the family mourned. They kept vigil over their lost loved ones. I feel that many other species have the same empathy, especially bluebirds. From everything I’ve read, it seems you should clean out the nest box.

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