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16 Birds That Eat Snakes (With Pictures)

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burrowing owl and green snake

Birds are fascinating creatures. They can fly across oceans, they can see from far distances, and they can even help us keep snakes from infiltrating our properties. Of course, not all birds do these things, but plenty of them do! So, which types of birds will eat snakes? There are at least 16 types of birds that you can expect to chow down on snakes — at least, the small ones.

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The 16 Types of Bird That Eat Snakes

1. Hawks

red tailed hawk eats garter snake on fence

Image Credit: Eric Amoah, Shutterstock

Hawks are predators that take every opportunity that they can get to catch prey smaller than them. These meat-eaters have no qualms about picking up a snake and carrying it away to make a meal of it. Of course, size is an issue. If a snake is larger than the hawk, chances are that it won’t become part of the menu. But if the snake looks manageable in size, it is fair game as far as a hawk is concerned, even if the snake is venomous.


2. Eagles

brown snake eagle eating snake

Image Credit: Jonathan Oberholster, Shutterstock

It is thought that eagles like to focus on venomous snakes when they are out on the prowl for a meal because they are immune to the poison that these snakes release. However, there are no scientific studies or other official documentation that proves this theory. Regardless, eagles are known for grabbing and eating cottonmouths, rattlesnakes, and even garden snakes whenever they have the opportunity to. They use their beaks to tear pieces off of the body until the snake is dead. Then it continues snacking on the snake’s body until it is satisfied.


3. Laughing Kookaburras

Laughing Kookaburra eating snake

Image Credit: Ken Griffiths, Shutterstock

These medium-sized carnivorous birds are native to Australia and love to feast on snakes. They aren’t picky, though, so snakes are not their only fare. They are known for munching on mammals such as mice and small rabbits, as well as lizards and even flies. If they happen to come across a snake on the smaller side, the Laughing Kookaburras will snatch it up for lunch just as it would any other animal that doesn’t compete with its size.


4. Cranes

sandhill crane on grass

Image Credit: Steppinstars, Pixabay

Cranes look gentle and passive. They also don’t seem to have the build to take down prey like snakes. However, cranes are willing to take the risk of fighting it out with a snake if it means that the snake will make a good meal when all is said and done. It makes sense because this bird species also has no problem eating other types of birds if they have an opportunity to. Other common meals include frogs, mice, and grasshoppers.


5. Vultures

hooded vultures

Image Credit: Pixabay

Vultures will eat just about anything that they can get their talons on. They are too busy chasing other types of prey, such as rabbits, fish, and scorpions, to come across snakes that often. However, when they do come across a snake of small or medium size, they do not pass up the opportunity to snatch it up and bring it to a safe place to start picking apart. Snakes don’t usually make it to the vulture’s eating spot alive.


6. Geese

Cape Barren Goose

Image Credit: Nel_Botha-NZ, Pixabay

While geese rarely eat animals (they have an omnivorous lifestyle), these birds are known to partake in their fair share of snake eating occasionally. If a goose decides to eat a snake, it is usually an ill or injured snake that will not put up much of a fight. They don’t want to put in much more effort than necessary to get a meal. Eating plant foods and small insects is much easier than eating a snake. However, don’t be surprised if you see a goose snacking on the remains of a snake.


7. Owls

owl with snake in mouth

Image Credit: Roger Jones, Shutterstock

Owls are night birds that can see extremely well, especially when snakes are slithering about. Snakes may only make up a small portion of an owl’s diet, but they are definitely not off the table. Owls that live near barns and farms are more likely to stick to rodents when it comes to hunting prey, whereas owls living in forests where humans are sparse are more likely to come across and partake in eating snakes.


8. Herons

Great Blue Heron eating a snake

Image Credit: Spark Dust, Shutterstock

These long-legged birds like to wade in the water and look for fish to snack on. They have extremely sharp beaks and talons that can easily pierce the flesh of snakes, so when one comes slithering around, a heron might take the opportunity to pounce. Their long legs help them to see what is moving around on the ground from a great height, even when they are not perching in trees. Water and rat snakes are the preferred stock for most herons.


9. Ducks

White Cheeked Pintail duck on a river

Image Credit: TheOtherKev, Pixabay

Cute little ducks do not look like they could harm any animal, but the truth is that they love to feast on worms, ants, and other insects. In addition, they are not afraid to munch on a small water or garter snake when the opportunity arises. Their fast reflexes, strong claws, powerful beaks, and impressive eyesight makes them no match for the average small snake. Small snakes like to hide under bushes and rocks, where ducks can easily find them during the day.


10. Crows

Crow in the wild

Image Credit: Pixabay

Crows have a dark reputation for being predictors of doom, but they are simply trying to survive out there in the harsh world. Therefore, they tend to congregate in parks and other communal places where people are likely to drop food particles that they can grab and take back to their nests. When human food is not easy to find, they won’t hesitate to grab a snake that they find and bring it back to their nest as a meal.


11. Secretary Bird

secretary bird eating snake

Image Credit: Hardus Augustyn, Shutterstock

This bird is not commonly seen, but it is known to lurk in the bushes looking for insects, reptiles, and snakes to make a meal of. Secretary birds are powerful, quick, and agile. Their leg force is incredible for their size, which makes them a worthy adversary for any prey that they decide to focus their attention on. These birds are particularly good at stomping on tall grasses to scare snakes out of their hiding places so they can home in on one and grab it for a meal.


12. Peacocks

peacock standing on a rock

Image Credit: leelavernissa0, Pixabay

Among the most notable things about peacocks are their beautiful, elongated feathers. However, these regal birds are also well known for eating snakes. These birds come from Asian lands where snakes are plentiful, so they are genetically used to seeking out and stalking snakes as prey. Peacocks like snakes as meals so much, they are even willing to go after large, venomous snakes whenever the opportunity arises.


13. Roadrunners

a roadrunner

Image Credit: HRHCC, Pixabay

Although depicted in media as a large bird that hunts down coyotes, the roadrunner is a small bird that doesn’t like confrontation. They rarely run on the ground to catch prey and instead, rely on their wings to quickly transport them to their prey from above. The problem is that rattlesnakes and similar types of snakes can eat roadrunners if they get the upper hand. Roadrunners are susceptible to the poison of venomous snakes, but their quick speed and sharp talons and beaks are what give them a fighting chance.


14. Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkey Closeup

Image Credit: ladymacbeth, Pixabay

Domesticated turkeys that live on farms do not need to eat snakes because they are offered feed by their owners and are exposed to plenty of worms and insects to maintain happiness and good health. Wild turkeys are not so lucky, and they must rely on their hunting skills to get the food that they need for survival. If a wild turkey comes across a small snake while hungry, chances are that they will attack the snake and make it a meal.


15. Chickens

Chicken

Image Credit: Danganhfoto, Pixabay

Many people think that chickens aren’t that smart. The truth is that these birds are extremely bright and understand how to interpret what is going on around them. If you offer chicken food in the same place once or twice, chances are that the chicken will go to that place at the same time for days afterward in anticipation of getting another meal. These are opportunistic birds, and they will eat insects, worms, rats, mice, cockroaches, and even each other if they are hungry enough. In fact, they spend most of their day foraging for grains, grasses, and insects to munch on. If they come across a snake that is small enough, they will be happy to make it a meal too.


16. Falcons

a grey falcon

Image Credit: Pixabay

Falcons are amazing animals. They swoop, swivel, and do loops in the air when they fly, which makes them super fun to watch. Some of the most formidable prey that they catch and consume are snakes. These birds are known for killing and eating snakes as large as the eastern grass snake, which can be 4 feet when fully grown. Falcons usually dive down upon their prey from above, a magnificent feat that one would be lucky to see in person.

Final Thoughts

Birds come in all shapes and sizes, just like snakes do. While snakes can and do eat birds, many birds are just as formidable and can eat snakes too. The next time that you see a cute little bird sitting in a tree, remember that it could be plotting a plan to take down prey lurking nearby — which could be a snake!


Featured Image Credit: Rafael Goes, Shutterstock

About the Author Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Since 2000, Rachael has been a freelance writer, and has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She is an artist at heart and loves to read, paint, and make jewelry in her spare time. Rachael is obsessed with helping animals in need both in her community and anywhere in the world where she feels she can make a difference. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens, so it's no surprise that animals happen to be her favorite topic to write about!

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