• Suzanne Norquist

Hank The Snake And Other Patio Wildlife

Updated: a day ago

With every new house comes a different wildlife experience. In the Colorado mountains, deer fill the neighborhoods like squirrels in a city park.

We also had town bears. Smallish brown bears. I never heard of them harming anyone. But I learned the hard way not to leave my trash outside overnight.

In the Denver suburbs, ducks, geese, rabbits, and squirrels abounded. The top of our wooden fence was like a squirrel highway.

The abundance of birds in the New Mexico high desert surprised me. The little pond and fountain in our backyard serve as a birdbath. Robins, humming birds, and even a roadrunner congregate at the watering hole. Unfortunately, they fly away when I try to take a picture.


A pair of robins built a nest on a pillar of our covered patio. I love to watch the baby birds grow.

All summer I sat outside and communed with nature.


. . . Until I spotted the five-foot snake stretched out on the steps of our inoperable hot tub.

What kind of place had I moved to?


I observed him from a safe distance.

No rattles. A good sign.


I texted a picture to my biologist son. He was no help at all. He’s into birds, not snakes.

Were there more snakes? Did I have to watch for snakes in the house?


My husband couldn’t identify him, but determined that the snake was no threat to people. He volunteered to relocate the critter if it bothered me.


I Googled and found the “What Snake Is That?” website. Who knew such a thing existed? My snake was the first to pop up. A glossy snake. Click the picture if you want to see all the snakes. Eeew.

I decided to call him Hank. Hank the Snake.


Mama and Papa Robin warned me of his presence. They kept guard when he slithered in the yard. When he neared the pillar with the nest they kicked up a fuss.


Hank could climb. He wriggled onto my new outdoor couch and on the patio dining table in his quest to get higher and closer to the baby birds.


I learned to look for him before settling in on my new patio set to write. And, I sanitized the table before setting supper out.

Hank was pretty amazing. He demonstrated a focused determination to reach his quarry. But he could only climb about three feet up the twelve-foot pillar toward the bird’s nest.

The robins amazed me, too. They attacked Hank. When squawking didn’t frighten him away, they dive bombed him and pecked him, knocking him off the pillar. My backyard turned into A Wild Kingdom.

I loved watching those robins guard the babies. One would watch Hank while the other took food to the chicks. Teamwork.


Soon, the baby birds matured and left the nest.


Hank disappeared, never to be seen again.


. . . Until next spring.


When the robins build their nest, I will check my patio furniture before I sit down.


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