Wrens to the Rescue! Autumn Rattler Safety Tips

Article contributed by Denver Audubon

Tom and Ellen, two friends of our volunteer Betty Glass, have had several incidents with rattlesnakes on their property near Golden’s South Table Mountain. Two summers ago, a rattlesnake bit Tom while he worked in the back yard. As a result, he spent 4 days in the ICU, but thankfully, Tom recovered.

This summer, after clearing their land and taking precautions to minimize seed droppings that attract rodents (and thus snakes), they had no slithery visitors . . . or so they thought.

One day, Tom’s and Ellen’s attention was grabbed by House Wrens vigorously chattering and flapping their wings. Ellen looked over the railing and saw the wrens encircling a rattlesnake that hid in their yard. The wrens’ cacophony gave Tom and Ellen the warning they needed. They called animal control, who caught the rattler and relocated it.

This is a good reminder to beware of rattlesnakes at home or out hiking and birding, especially in the fall. In autumn, snakes gather into “hibernacula,” where they hibernate in groups. In October 2017, Jeffco Open Space closed trails by Golden because of the number of congregating rattlesnakes. If you see a rattlesnake, freeze! Remain still while you assess the situation and then slowly back away. If you hear but can’t see a rattler, keep quiet and still until you can locate the direction of the sound and then slowly move away. If you are bitten, call 911 and don’t move. For more safety information, watch this interview with Jefferson County Ranger, Mary Ann Bonnell, who is also an Audubon master birder.