Monthly Archives: May 2010

Unwanted Guests at Meyer Observatory

or Papa’s a Wuss

I arrived at the observatory this evening and went to open the door in the dark, just like I usually do. I reached to put the key in the lock and realized something looked different.  I quickly (I am sure it was even quicker than it seemed) backed up, turned the car lights on and repositioned the car so I could see this ….

Well I wasn’t sure what to do.  There has been a nest above the observatory door for awhile now, but I had never seen any babies in it.  I had seen a bird fly away from the nest as I would come and go through the door.

I grabbed my camera out of the car and took a few pictures.  Notice that there is another snake already at the nest.  I couldn’t tell until I saw the pictures, but it is eating a baby bird.  The larger snake was undeterred by my lights and just kept trying to make its way up to the nest.  I am sure the smaller one was gloating at the bigger snake and thinking, ‘not so big now are you?’

I looked around for a big long stick or something that I could run them off with.  These are Texas Rat Snakes, they are harmless to humans, but quite aggressive when challenged, so I wanted the longest thing I could find.  After some searching, I found a 2″ diameter, maybe 5′ long piece of schedule 40 PVC.  Not exactly the right choice, but all I had.

First I managed to run the bigger snake off the door.

Then I decided that the only way I could get the smaller snake away from the birds was to knock the nest, birds, snake and all off the siren.  When I did that, the snake turned loose the bird it was eating, it no longer had a bulge in its throat.  But after a moment it went after one of the babies and seemed unconcerned about me.  I kept poking at it with my unwieldy PVC until it finally also slithered off ….

But ….

it went straight under my car and didn’t come out the other side.  I couldn’t see it in the dark, had no flashlight, the keys to the observatory were in the car ….

This is where the Papa’s a wuss part comes in.  I wasn’t about to get too near the car without knowing exactly where that snake was.

So I took my long PVC and poked around under the car hoping to run the snake off, but never saw it come out.  I laid the PVC flat on the ground and slid it from the front tires all the way to the back tires and didn’t feel anything.  I went around the other side of the car and repeated this process and it was obvious this time that I was hitting the snake.

I managed to get an angle that allowed me to see a bit of the snake in light from the porch and determined I could get in the car.  I backed up and the snake looked so much smaller than during the face-off on the porch.  🙂  But, it was coiled and ready for business.

After backing up a ways, I took the PVC and harassed it enough that it scurried off.

Well, I knew I couldnt just leave the baby birds out there on their own, but I didnt know what to do with them.  I didnt want to touch them (I had heard/read that doing so would mean the mother wouldnt have anything to do with them) so I unlocked the door, went inside and gathered a box and a large dust pan.

When I opened the door to go back outside, there was the larger snake back up on the porch trying to get one of the birds.  After gathering my composure, I managed to run it off again.  I gathered the birds and nest into the box and took it quite a ways away, set it up on an electricity junction box and hoped that the mother bird would figure out what to do next.

As I walked back to the observatory, there was the bigger snake back on the porch.  I ran it off again and noticed that it just went behind a junction box on the side of the observatory.  After quite a bit of effort on my part, poking at it, it finally headed off into the woods.

Normally, I go outside every thirty minutes to check the sky conditions, temperature, and wind.  But I think I wont be doing that tonight.

Papa

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