Sunday, March 13, 2011

The Heron vs. The Snake

Just before I reached the end of the auto tour at RNWR on Friday I noticed a Great Blue Heron to my right. A snake was dangling from its bill. I've watched Great Blue Herona catch fish and rodents, but this was the first time I had seen one with a snake.
The snake, however, wasn't going to give up on life as easily as the fish or rodents as it located a reed with its tail and wrapped it around it as tightly as it could.

The Heron pulled repeatedly as hard as it could, but the snake was not giving in.
After a minute or so of pulling, the reed finally gave in and snapped.
The Heron, thinking it had succeeded, tried to swallow the snake, but the snake still had a hold of the reed. Since the reed was at a right angle to the snake, it blocked the last bit of the snake from sliding down the Heron's throat.
The Heron continued to work at swallowing the snake, maneuvering the reed around to the front of its bill.
And around to the opposite side of its bill, slowly working the snakes grasp further down the reed.
Until the snake finally lost its battle, the reed fell to the ground and the Heron swallowed the snake down. I wonder what it feels like to have a snake wiggling around in your stomach? :-)
To watch a video of a similar experience, check out this YouTube video taken by local photographer Dennis Davenport.


  1. Fascinating - great photo study!

  2. Oh gross, a live snake in your belly! Great series of photos!

  3. Great capture and story! So the snake put up a good struggle, but it was still swallowed entirely and alive too?! Could you also see it wriggling down, I wonder, does it stand any chance of escaping the hungry birds stomach if eaten in that condition??



  4. What a way to go for a snake it certainly wasn't going to give up that easy, In the end the Heron won, I wonder if the snake was wiggling inside the Heron for a while after.

  5. Imagine being the snake going down into the Heron's belly.