Nothing Goes to Waste in a Wildlife Garden

I often don’t leave my property for days at a time. That gave a Common Ground-Dove (Columbina passerina) time to build a nest alongside the driveway gatepost in a tangle of Saltbush. It flushed out the other day when I was headed to the vet with Louie, the new Labrador rescue family member.

First there was one egg

I was out and about several time since and I guess the dove didn’t like the constant disruption of the gate opening and closing for it seemed to me as of yesterday that the two tiny bright white eggs had been abandoned.

Wait, you don’t look like a ground dove

Today as I was cleaning up after the dogs I noticed some movement by the nest. I crept over to get a closer look and was surprised by what I found staring back at me. A colorful Corn Snake (Pantherophis guttatus). A very BEEFY, colorful corn snake.

A snake that goes by many common names: Eastern Corn Snake, Corn Snake, Chicken Snake, Red Rat Snake (Pantherophis guttatus)

I could see that it already had eaten an egg by the bulge 10 or so inches down its sleek length. Corn snakes are generally 18-44 inches but can grow to as long as 7 feet. I’d say that this one was about 3.5-4 foot or so and noticed that the tail was blunted, obviously bitten off by something larger up the food chain.

Great markings on the bottom of this beefy snake

The snake was quite tolerant of the photo shoot but when I reached in to move some leaves in the way it backed down the tangle of Florida native Saltbush (Baccharis halimifolia) that the dove had chosen as a home. I glanced in the nest and it was empty.

Given the bird’s leeriness of me (I’m harmless, I swear), it probably was for the best all around. I don’t think the eggs were being properly incubated given the amount of time mom had been spending away from the nest. Even if I was 20 to 30 feet away the bird was flushing out to take cover across the street. When I mowed the driveway the other day Momma bird was gone for an hour or more.

Pretty good length. I see them crossing the road sometimes, but they are not usually this big.

So, Mother Nature found a solution. Snakes need to eat and what better choice than abandoned nest eggs. Now I just hope that the snake is feeling full enough that it doesn’t seek out the new Cardinal babies that are growing daily over in the Wax Myrtle.

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