I was walking the Bayou Liberty trail when I noticed a pecking sound in the woods next to me. It was one of those giant Pileated woodpeckers prospecting a tree just a few feet away. Startled, he took off over the bayou with his two running buddies, the three calling to each other.

I walked just a short distance further when I heard a great ruckus ahead. I moved to a clear view of a dramatic scene over the bayou. A five-foot Chicken snake hanging from a large live oak branch some twenty feet above the water had snagged one of the birds by its wing. The bird was screaming bloody murder and his companions, one of whom was probably his mate, were desperately attacking the snake and screaming as well. But the snake was unfazed. He and the bird dangled beneath the limb as he moved with great deliberation, carefully looping a couple of coils around his prey to insure the capture.

 

The bird quieted down a bit, probably contemplating his fate. The snake’s coils tightened. When the bird tried to squawk again it wasn’t quite as loud as before. I briefly considered trying to somehow help the poor creature but quickly realized that even Chicken snakes got to eat. It was a rule of the club these predators belong to. I didn’t wait for the gruesome “denouement” but I imagine that without proper utensils the snake eventually began his meal with the pointy end of the bird.

 

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A Texas Rat Snake (Elaphe obsoleta lindheimeri) caught out in the open, all smiles.