Snakes that eat birds include black races, rat snakes, bullsnakes, coachwhips, corn snakes, pine snakes, and king snakes.
Most snakes that eat birds are arboreal, meaning they spend their time in trees.
Snakes tend to eat bird eggs more often than birds. However, they will also eat birds when they can. The birds they eat are often baby chicks who have fallen out of their trees and who are too young to fly away and escape.
What Snakes Eat Birds?
1. Black Racers
Black racers are diurnal snakes that are mostly found in agricultural habitats such as forests, fields, and wetlands. They are generally dark-colored, a trait that gets them mistaken for rat snakes.
Black racers are carnivorous and feed primarily on meat, as with all snakes. Their diet consists of small animals, including small birds.
Essentially, the diet of these snakes depends on age and location. Therefore, they will feed on what’s available in their habitat at a given time. They hunt by creeping with their heads elevated off the ground, prying for prey.
While they are non-venomous, black racers are not constrictors. Therefore, they only feed on animals that they can overpower, and that is why they feed on small animals. Moreover, they are good climbers, which is how they get birds.
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2. Black Rat Snakes
Adult rat snakes range between 3-5 feet, but a large snake may still grow up to 6 feet. Black rat snakes have shiny black scales and light-colored belly, and the chin and throat are white.
A black rat snake is among species of snakes that prey heavily on birds and their (birds) eggs. Their diet constitutes birds because these snakes spend a lot of time on trees.
Furthermore, they are good climbers, meaning that they can easily hunt birds by sneaking up to their nests.
Adult black rat snakes are also known to steal wood duck eggs. Like many non-venomous snake species, black rat snakes constrictors and subdue their prey by squeezing them to death.
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Bullsnakes are typically beige or yellow in hue, with black or brown markings. These blotches form rings at the tail of the snake. The underbelly of a bullsnake is marked by light golden color.
Bullsnakes are open-country snakes. They prefer to live in native grasslands, oak savannas, and old fields. Also, they flourish in sandy-soil areas that are highly populated by burrowing rodents.
Bullsnakes like to feed on birds, and it helps that they are good tree climbers. They also eat bird eggs, so they hunt for them on trees. As they are non-venomous, bullsnakes subdue birds and other prey by constriction.
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Coachwhips are slender and long snakes that can reach a length of up to 8 feet. While it is non-venomous, the coachwhip does not constrict its prey. Instead, it relies on its speed to grab prey using its mouth and swallow it whole. Birds and bird’s eggs are the primary diet for coach whips. Besides birds, coachwhips also feed on rodents, amphibians, lizards, and other snakes.
Mostly found in the southern part of the United States, coach whips actively forage for food and are known to vigorously pursue prey by sight. For effectiveness, they forage with their heads elevated high above the ground.
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Adult copperheads grow to a length of 24 to 26 inches long as adults. They are identified by their pale brown to a light tan body that is typically pinkish. They also have golden elliptical pupils that resemble that of a cat. What’s more, copperheads feature heat-sensing pits between their eyes and nose, hence the title ‘pit vipers’.
As with all carnivores, copperheads feed on meat. Their diet mainly consists of rodents such as mice, rats, and chipmunks. Even so, these serpents tend to incorporate birds and bird eggs into their diet. Other animals these snakes eat include insects, amphibians, and lizards.
Copperheads are venomous animals, so they subdue their prey by injecting venom into the prey and waiting for the venom to kick in. For bigger prey, copperheads attack the prey and then release it, laying in wait for the poison to bring down the prey. However, when it comes to smaller prey such as birds, copperheads will hold the prey in its mouth until it dies away, after which the snake swallows the prey whole.
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6. Corn Snakes
Corn snakes stand out for their bright color and attractive patterns. Most of them are light brown with reddish-brown round patches. The edges of the patches are dark in some of the snakes. Typically, adult corn snakes can grow up to 48 inches.
The sort of prey a wild corn snake consumes essentially changes as the snake grows larger and stronger. Thus, the diet of a youngling differs slightly from that of an adult corn snake. Adult corn snakes feed on relatively bigger animals, including birds and their eggs. They are excellent climbers and are known to raid birds as a routine.
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7. Fox Snakes
Fox snakes mostly inhabit the Great Lakes Region. Some species of fox snakes prefer wet areas, while others like to live in grasslands. These snakes are tan-brown on the sides and dusky to the top of their body. Adults tend to be reddish-brown with scattered markings.
Fox snakes are non-venomous variants and kill by wrapping themselves around their victim and squeezing it to death. Their prey consists of birds and bird eggs. They also eat rodents, small mammals, and frogs.
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8. Garter Snake
While garter snakes come in varying colors, there is one distinctive way to identify them: three longitudinal yellow stripes running the length of their bodies. They are relatively small and feed on animals that they can easily overpower. They are among the snakes that consume birds, including newborn birds.
Garter snakes locate prey using their powerful senses of smell and vision. They are not venomous, and neither do they constrict their prey- instead, they target small and weak animals that they can easily ambush and consume whole. Besides ambushing, other hunting techniques that garter snakes utilize include gazing and craning.
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The kingsnake is one of the most common snakes in the United States. They boast a remarkable diversity of prey, including birds and bird’s eggs. Speckled kingsnakes also feed on amphibians, lizards, and specific snake species.
As they are non-venomous species, speckled kingsnakes subdue their prey by constriction, where they squeeze the prey to death. It helps that they are heavy-bodied, with an adult speckled kingsnake growing to up to 48 inches in length.
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10. Pine Snakes
Pine snakes are fairly heavy-bodied snakes that weigh 4 to 8 pounds. Adults grow to a length of 50-66 inches, and their color varies from white, yellow, and light gray.
Pine snakes are carnivorous, which is a trait synonymous with most, if not all, snakes. They eat meat, and their diet consists of small animals, among them birds and bird eggs. These snakes also eat rodents and small mammals. Since they are fantastic climbers, pine snakes tend to go hunt for birds on trees.
They are non-venomous and subdue their prey by constriction, where they squeeze the prey to death. They then devour their victims whole.
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There are many snakes that can eat birds, and the above examples are just the tip of the iceberg. Most snakes are opportunistic eaters who will eat any small animal that crosses their path. A bird is the perfect size for a meal for many snakes.
However, the truth is that snakes are eaten by birds more often than the other way around. Snakes are lower on the food chain than birds like eagles, owls, and hawks.
Joe is a freelance writer for FaunaFacts. Joe has written extensively about snakes for the site, but also contributes content about a range of animals.