Four of by birdhouses are currently occupied by House Wrens. I walked around the farm photographing them last week. They seem to spend all of their time singing.
This has indeed been a strange summer for bird watching at Canadian Hill Farm. About a month ago a Red-headed Woodpecker turned up at my feeder. This was the first one I have seen in 45 years of living on the Farm.
Just before the 4th of July I noticed an American Robin building a nest under my deck. I assumed she was getting ready for the second batch of babies for the summer. I was gone for the next week. When I returned, the following week, I noticed that the nest was finished but didn’t really pay much attention. Later in the week I stopped to look in the nest and found two fledglings. One of them flew out of the nest when I approached. I backed off. The next day the nest was empty. I’m still trying to figure out how a robin can build a nest and fledge the babies in two weeks? The only thing I can think of is something happened to the first nest and she built another nest for the fledglings.
This past week I notice a fledgling sitting on my bird perch by the feeders. It was a bird I didn’t recognize. It was about the size of a Rose-breasted Grosbeak and the color of a female Grosbeak. It would just sit there and made no attempt to feed at the feeder. Subsequently I noticed it several more times sitting in the same place. I took some photos but wasn’t able to figure out what it was.
Yesterday I noticed it again and this time there were several Grosbeaks at the feeder so when the fledgling started fluttering its wings wanting to be fed I figured a Grosbeak would feed it.
All of a sudden a small bird flew up from the ground and fed it. Turned out the mother was a song sparrow and the fledgling was a Brown-headed Cowbird. The poor little Song Sparrow thought the Cowbird was its baby. This is the first time I’ve seen this happen at the feeders.
Never a dull moment when watching birds.
I have to admit watching summer birds is more fun than watching the soaps on TV. The intrigue and backstabbing is amazing to behold.
Just before leaving for Iceland a pair of Eastern Bluebirds started visiting one of two houses I have setup in my north prairie. It had looked like they were planning on staying but every year the Tree Swallows show up a couple of weeks later and drive the bluebirds out. When we returned from Iceland we were surprised to find that the bluebirds did nest in one of the two houses. The other house was vacant.
Last week I noticed a flurry of activity out around the two houses so I went out to see what was up. I initially thought the first batch of babies had fledged and were hanging around. I took my camera along and discovered that the first batch had fledged and the adults were looking over the second house to raise their second batch. I stood around taking pictures with my long lens only to remember that 20 minutes earlier I had removed the memory card from the camera. Not a happy camper I returned to the house to get a new memory card. After I returned the bluebirds hung around long enough for me to get a couple of shots then they disappeared.
Unfortunately the bluebirds were unable to make a quick decision and a pair of wrens bought the house out from under them.
At this point I only had one vacant birdhouse so I decided to repeat last year’s experiment and put up a new house close to my deck in the hopes the bluebirds would use it. Last year this provided a great opportunity for photography.
I noticed the two bluebirds were checking it out but a week went by and they had still not made a commitment. Once again a wren came along and started checking out the house. I assumed the wren was going to take it over so I put up a second birdhouse about 5 feet away from the first.
I came in the house and started looking at some photos and my wife came along and asked me why I wasn’t watching the bird clean out the birdhouse I just put up? What’s to clean out I just put it up? I went to the window to see what was going on. Within five minutes of putting the house up a wren was busy cleaning it out. I didn’t check the house before I had put it up and a mouse had made a nest in it using some insulation I had stored in the garage. The wren was frantically working to clean the house out.
The next morning when I looked out the wren looked like it was starting to build a nest in the second house. As I was watching the bluebirds came along and started chasing the wren. The bluebirds then started check out the house.
The next day the wren was nowhere to be found and the bluebirds were still checking out the second house as well as looking at the first house.
The following day I heard the wren making a racket but didn’t see it by the birdhouses. I did notice the male bluebird sitting on the deck railing. I then noticed the wren hiding under the deck chair. Just then the bluebird took after it. About a half hour later I heard the wren again and noticed it was back at the second birdhouse and looked to be checking it out again. The bluebirds were nowhere to be seen.
This morning I noticed the Bluebirds were back and appeared to be building a nest in the second house.
I decided to put up another birdhouse in the eastern prairie in hopes the House Wrens will move to it. Later in the afternoon I noticed a wren checking it out. I can’t say I’m sorry to see the wrens apparently loose out to the bluebirds. The two houses I put up by the deck are under our bedroom window and the House Wrens seem to spend the entire day singing. We already have a crow that lands on the deck every morning and wakes us up.
For some unknown reason I rarely photograph House Wrens. They usually turn up around the farm in early summer when they occupy the houses abandoned by the Eastern Bluebirds and Tree Swallows. They really create quite the racket when anyone approaches their house. A pair was nesting out by my garden so and didn’t seem to mind when I was working close to them in the garden so I went in to get the camera to get some photos. As is typically the case, as soon as the camera comes out they are gone. Later in the summer a pair took over a Tree Swallow house so and I was able to successfully get some photos.