Gray rat snakes climbing Red-cockaded Woodpecker trees

Published in 1988

Renee Roper, a JSU student working on Redácockaded Woodpeckers (J)endrocopos borealis) in the Talladega National Forest, reports that on two occasions she has observed Gray Rat Snakes (Elaphe spiloides) climbing Redácockaded nesting trees in an apparent attempt to prey on the eggs or nestlings. On the first occasion, a snake was seen about six meters (20 feet) high on the trunk of a “dry” tree no longer used by the birds. The snake went into the hole just at nightfall presumably looking for a meal and/or a place to spend the night. In the second case, another gray rat snake was spotted at nightfall about three meters (nine feet) high on the trunk of a longleaf pine (Pinus palustris) having in it an active Redácockaded nest containing young. She was able to pull the snake down by the tail and placed it in a sack for translocation to a new home in her bam. It is questionable whether or not the snake would have made it through the protective area of sticky resin below the hole, but with 25% of this year’s reproduction of Redácockaded Woodpeckers in the TNF at stake, she couldn’t take the chance to find out. Only four active colonies totaling 12 adulta are presently known over the entire 221,000 acre national forest.

Author: Renee Roper
Volume Number: 35 Year Published: 1988
Issue Number: 1
Page Number: 13

Link to article: 35 No. 1_1988_p13.pdf
Link to the full issue of BirdLife: 35 No. 1_1988.pdf