Optics Mag is reader-supported. When you buy via links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no cost to you. Read more.

Do Snakes Eat Birds? What Do They Eat?

Last Updated on

eastern-fox-snake_

If you see snakes and birds in your yard, it’s only natural to wonder who eats who or if they leave each other alone. While snakes will certainly eat birds if they can, they’re not exactly the easiest prey to get a hold of. That said, some birds will seek out and eat snakes. It’s a bird-eat-snake or a snake-eat-bird world out there, and it can be hard to make heads or tails of things. Here, we break down everything that you might need to know.

hummingbird divider

Do Snakes Eat Birds?

While you might not think that snakes can eat birds because birds can fly and snakes can’t, the truth is that a snake eating a bird is relatively common. It typically happens with either young or old birds, as they’re simply not strong fliers.

Snakes will also chow down on bird eggs if they can get to them. Since most snakes possess the ability to climb trees, it’s far more common for a snake to eat a bird’s eggs than the birds themselves.

It can also happen with large birds when they swoop down and try to attack a snake. While a larger bird usually wins this encounter, it doesn’t always work out that way.

In short, if a snake gets the opportunity, it will absolutely eat a bird, but such opportunities aren’t normally abundant.

western diamondback rattlesnake

Image Credit: Tom Reichner, Shutterstock

Do Birds Eat Snakes?

While you’re not likely to see a robin or a cardinal chowing down on a snake, hawks or eagles will absolutely eat a snake that they see when flying around.

Sometimes these large birds of prey will choose to let a snake go in favor of prey that doesn’t fight back as much, but if the bird is hungry enough and they like their chances against a particular snake, they’ll strike.

You might be surprised to learn that common types of birds such as ducks, chickens, and crows will also eat snakes. While they won’t go after snakes as their first choice for food, if they get hungry enough, they can work up the nerve to go after a snake.

burrowing owl and green snake

Image Credit: Rafael Goes, Shutterstock

Other Common Snake Foods

While snakes will eat a bird if they can get a hold of one, they don’t always get that chance. Therefore, it’s important for snakes to eat a wide array of different foods. Here are five different things that a snake will eat.

Eggs

While birds can fly away to save themselves, their eggs don’t have that option. Whether it’s a dove or chicken nest close to the ground or if the snake has to climb up a tree, if a snake finds a bird egg, they’ll happily eat it.

Small Mammals

When you think of snake food, mice are the first things that often come to mind. While a snake will happily eat a mouse, they’ll eat any small mammal that they can get a hold of, including rabbits and chipmunks.

Lizards

Depending on the environment, snakes will chow down on lizards regularly. It’s all about whether lizards are in the area to begin with!

Fish

Not every snake out there will venture into the water to catch a fish. But water snakes thrive on catching smaller fish. Land-based snakes typically don’t eat fish.

Insects

Many small snakes have no problem eating insects. They’re abundant and not always as quick to escape as other animals. The only downside is that snakes need to eat a large number of insects to meet their nutritional needs.hummingbird divider

Final Thoughts

Snakes don’t go after birds regularly, but if they can catch them, they have no problem eating them. For the most part, snakes are opportunistic eaters, and if the bird can’t fight back enough, they’ll quickly become snake food.


Featured Image Credit: mlhoward, Shutterstock

About the Author Robert Sparks

Robert’s obsession with all things optical started early in life, when his optician father would bring home prototypes for Robert to play with. Nowadays, Robert is dedicated to helping others find the right optics for their needs. His hobbies include astronomy, astrophysics, and model building. Originally from Newark, NJ, he resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico, where the nighttime skies are filled with glittering stars.

Robert Sparks Profile Picture