A Western Diamondback Rattlesnake, Crotalus atrox, has captured
an adult Gambel's Quail (All photos by Narca)
Are you sure you can manage that??
A snake in the neighborhood gets noticed. In fact, one can stay coiled for days near water or seed, before a strike is finally successful. We've seen many more misses than strikes. When a snake does catch inattentive prey, the long process of swallowing attracts spectators –– here, a Canyon Towhee, among the most curious of birds.
Western Diamondback, watched by a Canyon Towhee
(and by me, from our balcony!)
Bit by bit, the quail disappears
Black-tailed Rattlesnakes also wander through the yard, but they are more active hunters, and don't set up shop by the water dishes. Mojave Rattlesnakes are much more frequent down in the valley below us, at a slightly lower elevation.
For years, a very large rattlesnake, which we dubbed "Old Scarsides", visited us, but he disappeared several years ago.
The most memorable email I ever received from a house-sitter reached us in Bolivia, from Dave Utterback, the noted bird artist who died in 2009. While house-sitting, he had left our front door open, and a woodrat got in. He managed to trap the woodrat, and put her in the freezer. Next day, a rattlesnake coiled in ambush by the seed feeder, and Dave tried to feed the woodrat to the snake, which showed no interest in the cold carcass. "So I warmed her up in your microwave, and then the snake ate her." Thanks, Dave.
If you're afraid of snakes, and would like to get past that, the next time you see one, just watch from a safe, respectful distance. Soon you may find yourself more intrigued than afraid!