Watch A Woodpecker Fight A Snake In A Tree

Written by Gail Baker Nelson
Updated: October 21, 2023
Share on:

Key Points:

  • The crimson-crested woodpecker lives throughout the Amazon north of Paraguay to Costa Rica.
  • Woodpeckers poke holes in trees to find insects to eat – when they come across a good location for a nest – they enlarge the hole and build a nest inside.
  • Some Amazonian snakes travel from tree to tree looking for bird’s nests to raid for eggs or chicks.
  • Yellow-bellied puffing snakes are one of the largest tree snakes in South America, growing to about 10 feet long.

Woodpeckers are familiar sights on most continents – the sound they make as they peck holes into trees and their frequent redheads are unmistakable. The crimson-crested woodpecker (Campephilus melanoleucos) is a South American native. It lives throughout the Amazon north of Paraguay to Costa Rica, pecking hole after hole into trees while it hunts for insects.

Check Out The Complete Video Below!

Woodpecker battles nest-invading snake

Woodpeckers eat grubs, bugs, beetles, and other insects they find in the tree bark and in holes they peck. When they find a great spot, they enlarge the hole so it can become a nest for their young.

The woodpecker in this video is just trying to care for its young. He and his mate have a couple of babies to feed and a terrific home in a high-rise. Woodpeckers aren’t very aggressive birds, and it’s fun to watch as they scale the tree trunks.

43,554 People Couldn't Ace This Quiz

Think You Can?

Unfortunately, things are about to get crazy in this woodpecker vs. snake video.

Woodpecker vs. Snake

Red-headed Woodpecker

The crimson-crested


(Campephilus melanoleucos)

is native to South America.


Some Amazonian snakes climb from tree to tree, raiding bird nests and feeding on rodents in trees. They are important to the ecology and help keep the rodents from overrunning the habitat. Necessary as they are, no bird wants to come home to find a snake in its nest.

Yet, that’s precisely what happened here.

Upon its return to the nest, a crimson-crested woodpecker discovered the unthinkable: A snake found its nest in the tree!

When the woodpecker discovers the invader, it doesn’t hesitate. This woodpecker bravely springs into action. Watch as the woodpecker pokes its head inside the nest for a moment, then jumps back as the rather large snake launches out after it.

Scene of an Yellow-bellied Puffing Snake (Spilotes sulphureus) seen from the front. Trunks and leaves beneath the snake.

A Yellow-bellied Puffing Snake

(Spilotes sulphureus)

lives mostly in trees


©Leonardo Mercon/

The yellow-bellied puffing snake (Spilotes sulphureus) spends nearly all of its life in the trees. This colubrid only leaves the trees when it must and eats birds, eggs, and small mammals. It’s rear-fanged and has very mild prey-specific venom, but it’s not dangerous to people. Yellow-bellied puffing snakes are one of the largest tree snakes in South America, growing to about 10 feet long.

If you look closely, there’s a suspicious lump in the snake’s throat as it backs off a little to watch the bird. It’s eaten recently. Is it one of the babies? The woodpecker knows its babies are in danger and goes after the snake.

Woodpecker vs. Snake: The Battle Continues

Female Pileated Woodpecker on Tree Trunk in Fall.

Woodpeckers are typically accustomed to finding small insects in trees with their probing beaks, not vicious reptiles!


The two animals stare at each other for a moment, wondering who will act first. Then, the woodpecker flaps over and pecks at the snake’s body, leaping away just as the yellow-bellied puffing snake strikes – unfortunately, just a little too slow because the snake managed to grab the woodpecker. Surprisingly, the woodpecker manages to wrestle its way out of the snake’s mouth and moves up the tree a short distance from the snake.

We don’t see if there’s more to the woodpecker vs. snake fight. The video cuts away as the two stare each other down for another round.

Who do you think wins?

Other Predators Of Birds In The Amazon

Birds in the Amazon have more to worry about than snakes – the rainforest is dense with fierce opportunistic predators that will not hesitate to feast on birds – including other birds! The harpy eagle is one of the most feared predators of the Amazon. This large bird of prey has four-inch talons as long as a grizzly bear‘s that can grip prey with hundreds of pounds of pressure. Harpy eagles perch high in a treetop to peer below for unsuspecting prey with their excellent eyesight and stellar sense of hearing. Once prey is detected, the eagle dives down in a flash to snatch the animal with its deadly talons and carry it back up into the trees to become the bird’s dinner. Harpy eagles prey mainly on monkeys, sloths, opossums, iguanas, and snakes – but they also eat birds. Macaws, parrots and, sadly, woodpeckers have been prey to the deadliest raptor in the rainforest.

Harpy Eagle, Animal, Animal Body Part, Animal Wildlife, Animal Wing

Harpy eagles are the largest eagle in the Americas and are considered the most powerful raptor in the Amazon.


More Amazing Snake Videos You May Like

While the snake above was able to escape the onslaught of attacks from its woodpecker assailant, most of the time, when birds attack snakes the serpent does not slither away unscathed. In this next thrilling snake vs bird battle, an eagle swoops down on a sea snake with incredible precision that you’ll have to see for yourself to believe!

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

Share on:
About the Author

Gail Baker Nelson is a writer at A-Z Animals where she focuses on reptiles and dogs. Gail has been writing for over a decade and uses her experience training her dogs and keeping toads, lizards, and snakes in her work. A resident of Texas, Gail loves working with her three dogs and caring for her cat, and pet ball python.

Thank you for reading! Have some feedback for us? Contact the AZ Animals editorial team.