Date: 12/5/17 9:32 am
From: \J. Anderson\ (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Re: Snakeskins in bluebird boxes
Ms. Lynn,

That is a great observation and I'm sure the birds appreciate you cleaning
out their nest boxes, but some species of birds actually collect and use
snake skins as nesting material. We may think of snakes as a major predator
to birds; however, many other predators exist that you might not consider.
There are currently a few research projects being conducted studying the
use of snake-sheds in nesting material, of which many believe snake-sheds
are used to deter egg-predators in particular mammalian predators such as
flying squirrels and grey squirrels. Just something to think about next
time you see that black rat snake or snake skin around your house - they
may occasionally eat bird eggs; however, a large mouse, rat, or flying
squirrel would make a much more satisfying meal...

"A randomised, replicated and controlled trial in May-June 2004 in
Arkansas, USA (Medlin & Risch 2006) found that artificial great crested
flycatcher Myiarchus crinitus nests placed inside 60 nest boxes were less
likely to be predated if there was black rat snake (*Elaphe obsolete)* skin
inside the nest box (0/20 nests predated) or both inside and outside the
nest box (0/20 predated) than if there was no snake skin present (5/20
predated). Predation was mainly by southern flying squirrels (*Glaucomys
volans*). Snake skins were treated by being placed in proximity with to a
live rat snake for five hours prior to installation."

Replyed "All" as this question has come up before

Happy birding (and please spare/appreciate your reptilian friends too!)

Jesse Anderson
Pinnacle, NC

On Mon, Dec 4, 2017 at 2:20 PM, "Herbert, Teri Lynn" <carolinabirds...>
> wrote:

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> Last year a friend found snakeskins in two of his bb boxes. He swept them
> out, didn’t use anything to ‘clean’ them. The bluebirds never nested in
> these two boxes this spring/summer.
> Should he do something else to clean them out? Do the birds sense that
> the snakes had shed their skins in the box and are avoiding them? His
> other boxes had bb nests in, just not these two!
> Suggestions? Thanks from Wadmalaw Island
> Teri Lynn
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