snake in bluebird box

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    Cailla Brehmer

      I have watched my bluebirds for weeks almost all day (broke my foot…nothing else to do) while they built the nest, then clearly were feeding babies.

      Let me first add that this is my first time and the box was new…apparently it was made wrong because it doesn’t have a latch door AND the screw at the top goes to nothing…

      I have no clue how long babies are in the box until the fledge, but I did notice the mom & dad not there for a day and then the next day saw a baby on the fence. Figured they fledged? Well, yesterday I was gone for an hour and come back to a huge rat snake all mangled and stuck (but alive) in the boX. We finally got the snake lose and figured babies were either eaten or had fledged.

      Long story short, this morning I see both mom and dad each individually go in the box, come out, then the other. They have checked it a few times throughout the day and have stayed somewhere in my yard.

      What do y’all think is going on????? I wish SO BAD that I could just look in and have an answer, but it won’t open. I am nervous to take it totally down in case by some miracle there is something good in there.

      Someone please help me have a clue!!!!!!



        Have you tried opening the top/lid of the box to look inside if it won’t open from the front or sides? You have to be able to look inside the box to check on the babies and see what’s going on. It sounds like one of the babies has fledged already. No telling what happened to the other babies unless you or somebody else can look inside. I’m so sorry this happened to you on your 1st time putting up a nest box. Try and have someone help you place a predator guard on the pole to try and help deter snakes. Snakes will swallow an entire brood of babies one by one if they get inside the box. It sounds like the one baby fledged successfully before the snake struck.

        – Dana

        Carol – Mid-Mo.

          Callia, ditto to what Dana says – you (or someone for you) could open the box with the screw on top – there has to be a way to look inside. As far as snakes go – THEY ARE A DEFINITE PROBLEM. Like Dana said, you need to have someone put a predator guard underneath the box. Check out for more information on guards. Also, when putting up a new nestbox you should NEVER install it on anything wood, like a fence, wooden pole, etc. This is just asking a snake to climb it and have dinner. The box needs to be installed on anything slick, like a steel or hard plastic pole. (Steel is best – wind can blow down anything else.) Good luck! ALSO, WELCOME TO OUR SITE!

          Cailla Brehmer

            Thank you so much! NONE of the sides or top open. I guess the student who made it for SCWF missed that part?! However, mom and dad are at the house nonstop this morning and going in and out so at least one must be in there, right?? I wonder if the snake being caught had him too squished to eat (at least all)???
            I promise you, I won’t make this mistake again. I just don’t know if I should take it down now (which would mean cutting the zip ties that my husband rigged it with) if there is a potential of babies! This is so very frustrating.

            Cailla Brehmer

              Thank you!!! Read my response below to Dana on the update (which is only confusing me more!!).
              I feel awful for making this rookie mistake. Not only is it not guarded but it’s on a crape myrtle.
              The top screw is unscrewed (we did that when snake was caught) and STILL won’t open??? The boxes were made by USC students for South Carolina Wildlife Federation…
              Okay as I type, mom is literally feeding (safe to assume as she sticks her head in again..) and dad on top of house….


              Don’t kick yourself for “learning”. I have a couple of suggestions. I would get that nestox out of the tree and onto a pole right away. The birds will follow it if they have eggs or young in it.

              Like Carol suggested, mount it on a slick surfaced steel or PCV pipe. I have mine mounted on A 5′ 1 1/2 in PCV pipe with a stove pipe baffle to keep away predators.

              And I would either take off the front of your nestbox and trim it so that you can make a door that will open from the front. (see the front of my nestbox. It opens from the top outward and is held closed by an “L” shaped screw in hook.) If the opening for the birds does not have a predator guard, I would install one as soon as you can.

              Keep us posted on your progress.

              Stafford, VA

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