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Category Archives: Birds

We made a late spring visit to Crex Meadows last week. Our first stop was a Bald Eagle nest on Phantom Lake Road. One of the adults was sitting by the nest and there were two young in the nest. It looked like they were just about ready to leave the nest.

When we reached Phantom Lake we found a number of pairs of Canada Geese with their young. This adult seemed to be upset with something and it kept chasing other geese.

There were a number of pairs of Trumpeter Swans with their young. The adults were furiously churning the water. I assume to free plants from the bottom so they would float to the surface and the Cygnets could feed on them.

One of the popular attractions this year has been Killdeer nesting in the roads around the flowage.

We also found this Leatherback Turtle laying eggs along the road.

The spring flowers were out in the meadows. Indian Paintbrush and Yellow Water Lilies were common.

We encountered a number of White-tailed Deer in our drive through the meadows.

The young ducks have also hatched and could be found on the flowages.

Just as we were about to leave on vacation the orioles and hummingbirds returned for the summer. We only saw a couple of them but knew more would be following. We put out a couple of large containers of grape jelly for the orioles and all of my feeders for the humming birds. When we returned the orioles had eaten all of the grape jelly and the humming birds had just about emptied their feeders. I put out some grape jelly and filled the humming bird feeders but there have only been a few around. Typically they come and eat for a week or two then go off to raise their young. I would expect to see them back in large numbers as summer begins.

Orchard Oriole

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

There is a small pond along the road on the adjoining farm. As we drove past it we noticed a Bald Eagle circling so we decided to stop for a photo. Unfortunately it went behind the hill so I started photographing a pair of Wood Ducks in the pond. I noticed my wife waving at me and pointing. Turned out the Eagle had returned.

This spring two birds have turned up at my feeders that I have never seen on the farm before. The firs photo is of an Eastern Toehee. When it first turned up I thought the Baltimore Orioles had returned but I was wrong. A pair of Toehees spend their time feeding on the ground and running from under the feeder to a bush that provides shelter. The second bird is the Yellow-rumped Warbler which also turned up a few weeks ago. There are a number of them and they seem to like to feed on the suet.

A bird that I have not seen for several years also turned up at the feeder last week. The Red-breasted Nuthatch used to frequent my feeders and finally returned after an absence.

I still have lots of White-throated Sparrows around. Fortunately they are ground feeders and seem to do a good job cleaning up under the feeders.

Last week the male Rose-breasted Grosbeaks  returned. I have not yet seen the females. The only spring birds that have not returned are the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds and the Baltimore Orioles.

Rose-breasted Grosebeak

We recently spent a morning driving around Crex Meadows. During a stop at the visitors center we found that several eagles had been spotted earlier in the morning. We were lucky to find they were still hanging around. This one was sitting by the nest. A little later in the morning we noticed it was hunting on Phantom Lake. When it caught a fish it went back to the nest were we were able to watch it feeding its young.

Bald Eagle

We did not spot many Sandhill Cranes. This one was near the road. I suspect most of the others were nesting deeper in the marshes.

We could see Trumpeter Swans nesting but they were all quite some distance from the road. We did encounter three non nesting swans in a small pool.

We found this pair of Ring-necked Ducks in a small pond.

Lots of Red-winged Blackbirds around the area.

The muskrats were very active throughout the flowages.

We noticed this Killdeer ahead of us so we stopped. It was very accommodating and walked right up to us and posed for photos.

The marsh grass provided some interesting patterns. In the second photo the area had recently been burned providing for a variety of colors as it started to grow again.

The Lily Pads were starting to grow now that the ice is off of the flowages.

This past week I saw large numbers of American Goldfinches at my feeders. I hadn’t seen many for a while but the are really back and loving a new thistle seed feeder.

The second most frequent visitor to the feeder is the White-throated Sparrow. They tend to turn up in large numbers in the spring. They are ground feeders so it is not unusual to see a dozen of them on the ground under the feeders.

I’ve seen Yellow-rumped Warblers around the farm in the spring but this is the first time I’ve seen them at my feeders. There seems to be about a half dozen of them that are enjoying my suet feeders. The first few days there were only males at the feeder but I’ve noticed a females are now showing up.

I have a number of Chipping Sparrows at my feeders. The too seem to like the Suet feeders.

My wife and I made our first visit to Hoffman Hills since returning from vacation. We were curious to see if the Canada Geese had nested at the ponds again this year. We were happy to see one pair had nested on the first pond. Normally they nest on a small island in the middle of the pond but the last few years the water has been so high that they have been nesting on shore. One was on the nest and the other staged nearby watching as we approached.

On the second pond we didn’t find any birds but there were quite a few Painted Turtles sunning themselves. Normally when we approach they slip into the water but this time they just continued to hang out and ignored us.

After walking around the ponds we headed out into the Prairie area to check on the birds. We wanted to see if the Tree Swallows and Easter Bluebirds were nesting yet. The bluebirds were sitting on one of the bird houses and several pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing them. The male stayed off to the side but the female maintained here position on the house to protect it from the swallows.

There were a few flowers out. The Marsh Marigolds were out around the first pond and the Prairie Smoke was just starting to come out in the Prairie area.

 

 

The first part of April the first Eastern Bluebirds returned for the summer. They have been searching for housing in the area.

Eastern Bluebird

They were followed by the Tree Swallows. The battle for nesting spots has begun.

Tree Swallow

The Chipping Sparrows have been frequenting my feeders.

Chipping Sparrow

The song Sparrows are back and singing up a storm.

Song Sparrow

White-throated Sparrows can be found at the Feeders.

White-throated Sparrow

The Dark-eyed Junco is a winter bird but a few of them are still hanging around. I expect they will all be gone in the next few weeks.

Dark-eyed Junco

 

Spring is the time I like to drive over to Gilbert Creek Wildlife Area to view the birds. We had driven past last week and noticed that there were already a number of Sandhill Cranes in the area. I drove down just after sunrise and didn’t see much to photograph. Later in the morning we were in the area so we drove over to see if things had improved. Just as we arrived my wife noticed a couple of Sandhill Cranes calling. There was another pair in the wetlands but we couldn’t see them.

There were quite a few Red-winged Blackbirds around but we didn’t see any females.

Lots of Canada Geese in the pond.

There were also quite a few ducks around including  this pair that seemed to be staking out a nesting place. There were also a number of Wood Ducks around but they were a little skittish so no photos.

When things get a little dull I like to take photos of just about anything. This is last years Cattail.

As we were returning home one day my wife noticed a Bald Eagle on a deer carcass along the road. We turned around and went back hoping to get a photo. Unfortunately another car came along and the Eagle took off. I did manage to get a photo of it sitting on a dead tree along the road and a second photo when it flew up into a pine tree.