Category Archives: Eastern Phoebe
Normally we have Eastern Phoebes around the farm. For years one nested on a light over the back door of the garage. In recent years they have not nested around the house but they turn up occasionally. This week one turned up at my bird feeders. Typically they don’t eat anything at the feeders so I was a little puzzled. It was a hot day and the phoebe looked a little out of sorts. Shortly after he arrived he started chasing an American Goldfinch. He returned to the feeder and then chased another goldfinch. This behavior went on for about 15 minutes. A few days later he was back and still chasing goldfinches.
This fledgling Eastern Bluebird has been hanging around with its parents.
I continue to find a number of Chipping Sparrows hanging around the feeder.
The Eastern Phoebes have returned. I mentioned that they were not nesting around the house for the first time in years. But I’m now seeing and adult and a fledgling hanging around the house but not nesting.
American Goldfinches are around in large numbers. They are really going though the thistle seeds.
As long as I can remember we have had Eastern Phoebes nesting on the farm. For years they had a nest above a light fixture that was mounted close to my son’s bedroom window. It used to drive him nuts when the birds would start in early in the morning. When that nest was abandoned they started nesting under out deck.This year they have not returned and I have not seen a single Eastern Phoebe. These photos were taken the last several years.
More photos from Canadian Hill Farm can be found on my website.
This past week three more spring birds returned to the farm. The Eastern Bluebirds returned to the area several weeks ago but only turned up on the farm the last couple of days.
Right behind the Bluebirds were the Tree Swallows. Both are vying for the use of the same houses. I have a dozen bird houses around the farm and have yet to figure out why the Bluebirds and Tree Swallows always seem to want the same houses.
The Eastern Phoebes also returned this week. They have been busy working on their nest. Since the nest from last year is available they seem to be only doing some minor repairs.
Yesterday I saw two new birds at my feeders. The Yellow-rumped Warblers are migrating through. I have been seeing lots of them along the Red Cedar River but today I saw my first one on the farm. I think this is the first one I’ve ever photographed on the farm.
The Eastern Phoebes have also been plentiful along the Red Cedar River. I normally have them build a nest around the house and yesterday I saw my first one of the season on the farm.
It has been a while since my wife and I have been to Willow River State Park. Usually I make a number of visits in the winter but this year I just made one visit. With the arrival of Spring we decide to drive over and check on condition in the Park. In fact we made two visit last week to Willow River State Park.
The first visit was made on bright cold spring day.There was plenty of water running over the falls. It was late in the day so the falls was mainly in the sun and only partially in the shade. I managed to get a few photographs using a neutral density filter and a circular polarizing filter.
After photographing the falls we decided to follow the river down to Willow Falls Lake and see if we could find any wildlife. There were plenty of ducks and Canada Geese to be found where the open water of the river met the ice on the Lake. We heard a pair of Sandhill Cranes calling as we were walking along the river but couldn’t see them. We also saw a couple of Trumpeter Swans land in the open water on the lake as we were walking back to the car.
After looking at my photos I wasn’t happy with them so a few days later we decided to drive back over to the park and do some hiking. In the morning we walked down to the falls and took some more photos. The water was running higher than on the previous trip. We then walked along the river to check on the waterfowl. They were less plentiful along the shore than on our previous trip. We decided to walk back to the car and head out for some lunch.
After Lunch we decided to try hiking the Nelson Farm Trail which was finished late last year. It goes from main east parking area through the north portion of the park and ends back at Willow Falls. In all we walked about seven miles through the park.
The trails had been groomed for cross country skiing but they had turned mostly to slush and in many places were bare ground. We encountered a couple of diehard cross country skiers on the trails. They had to stop every once in a while and walk through the mud to get to the next patch of snow. One of them gave up and clearly was not happy with conditions but the other one persevered and made the circuit of the park.
Wildlife was plentiful in the bluffs above Willow River Lake. There were two herds of White-tail Deer in the meadows. We also managed to see quite a few birds including our first Eastern Phoebes, Eastern Bluebirds, Great Blue Herons and Cedar Waxwings of the season. Waterfowl was plentiful but too far out for any photographs. Waterfowl included Wood Ducks, Common Mergansers, Mallards, Buffleheads and lots of Canada Geese.
This is a great time to visit Willow River State Park. There is some good water flow over the Falls. Many of the summer birds have returned to the park. Waterfowl are plentiful where the Willow River enters Willow Falls Lake and along the edge of the ice on the lake.
I don’t think I’ve given it much thought but the hot humid weather we’ve had this past week must take a terrible toll on wildlife. I’ve been photographing birds now for quite a few years and have never noticed birds panting before. I really feel sorry for the birds that are nesting in bird houses. Every time I walked by this Tree Swallow she had her head hanging out of the house and was panting. I started noticing that many of the other birds that I was photographing were also panting. With the hot humid weather we have been having the past week I’ve been getting lots of photos of birds panting to try and regulate their temperature.
It’s the time of year when I review the birds that I’ve photographed around my farm during the spring. I was a fairly boring spring following a rather boring winter with not many new observations. None the less there were some interesting happenings.
Probably the most interesting event was the return of the Easter Bluebirds. I was able to get my first shot of them on the first day of spring. What made this such a great year for bluebirds was the fact that I set up my turkey blind in the back yard and started photographing them when they started nest hunting and followed through while they built the nest and then defended it against Tree Swallows. Apparently Easter Bluebirds build several nests at the same time and then end up using only one of them. That appears to be what happened this year. After building the nest they didn’t seem to be using it so I opened the nesting box up and sure enough there was a great nest but it wasn’t being used. This is the third year in a row that this has happened.
The second most interesting event was my problem with a female Northern Cardinal. As spring arrived the female cardinal started attacking my basement window. I kept hearing a sound in the basement but couldn’t figure out what it was. After several trips to the basement I noticed the female cardinal banging against the window. Our cat occasionally sleeps in the basement and it must have been driving him nuts. It turned out that the basement window was just the start of things. It then started attacking a large picture window. I tried to put something in the window to discourage it but it then moved to another picture window above it so I took the window blocker down. A couple of weeks later I was awakened by a sound outside my bedroom window. When I looked she was banging against my bedroom window just after sunrise. After about a week of this I pulled the blinds and that put a stop to it. Attacking the windows went on for about six weeks. At one point I thought it had stopped and started to clean the windows but it started again after a few days. The male cardinal would just sit on a tree branch, with a confused look and watch her. When she finally did quit it was a big chore to clean the windows. Typical window cleaning didn’t work and I ended up using a scratch free scouring pad to get the gunk off.
Early in the spring when the American Robins return they sometimes don’t have worms to eat so they love eating Sumac Berries. I usually put them out for the Eastern Bluebird but the Robins also feed on them.
For a few weeks I had a Red Tailed Hawk that was perching in a tree in the back yard. He had a great view of my backyard prairie. I would see him perched on the same tree almost every day. I could usually tell when he was there because the Crows would soon be gathering to drive him away.
American Goldfinches are my most frequent visitor in terms of numbers. They congregate in large numbers throughout the year. They eat me out of house and home. They particularly love Black Sunflower seeds.
As I noted above I have Tree Swallows nesting around the farm. They usually battle the Eastern Bluebirds for nesting rights. This year the bluebirds won although as I indicated they ended up not using the nesting box. The Tree Swallows wanted the one about ten feet from the bluebirds but ended up taking another nest. The irony of it was that at the end of spring the Tree Swallows ended up setting up their second nest in this house.
Generally I have a few House Finches around my feeders. I mainly see them when they bring their fledglings to the feeder late in the spring. I can usually get a few shots of the adult feeding the young.
For quite a few years I’ve had Eastern Phoebes nesting above a light over the back door of the garage. Last year they abandon the nest. This year they started nesting in the corner of my house under the deck. The first batch fledged just after the first of June. We weren’t around and didn’t seem them fledge although I did see the whole family out in the woods about a week later. This shot is a little is a little unusual. I was photographing a phoebe while it was attempting to eat a worm. After thrashing around with it for a while it suddenly went down the hatch. I just happened to catch it.
I usually have Song Sparrows nesting in some bushes in front of the house. They are near my feeders so I occasionally get a shot of them. This year, for the first time, I managed to get a shot of an adult feeding one of the fledglings.
Early in the spring I had a number of Chipping Sparrows around. I thought they were also going to nest around the house but they seem to disappear later in the spring.
This year, for the first time that I can remember, I had a Pigeon appear on the farm. The neighbor has all kinds of them on his barn but they never show up at my house. I noticed him while I was mowing the lawn and after watching him for about fifteen minutes I decided to go in the house and get the camera since it was such an unusual sight.
I normally have Red-bellied Woodpeckers around the feeders all year around. They love suet but only the commercial stuff not the suet you purchase from the meat market. I have an old log that I drilled holes in and fill with suet that I use for a feeder. It makes a good prop for photography. This year for the first time a fledgling showed up with an adult. I tried to get a photo of the adult feeding the fledgling but it was too dark. After a while the fledgling started showing up on its own. I suspect the adults were busy with another batch of young.
I normally have a pair of Gray Catbirds nesting in front of the house. They are a beautiful bird. I could see that they had a nest but couldn’t find it but would see them bringing food to the young.
What a difference a year makes. Last year I had large numbers of Baltimore Orioles arrive in the spring. There were so many orioles around the area that the stores ran out of grape jelly. I would frequently have six or eight birds around the feeders at any one time. This year I saw a couple of them at the feeders and they were gone off to nest. I think this is my only photo of one.
More birds of spring photos can be found on my website.