The last of the spring birds have returned to the farm.
Two weeks ago a Rose-breasted Grosbeak turned up at the farm.
Rose-breasted Grosbeak male
This past week my wife saw a Ruby-throated Hummingbird and a Baltimore Oriole. So far there appear to be only a couple of birds.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird male
Tree Swallows have also returned are are checking out the housing situation. This year I added more bird houses so I hope there will not be fights between the Bluebirds and the swallows.
It had been over a week since my wife and I stopped at Hoffman Hills to look around. Constant rain had prevented a visit but today it was beautiful and sunny.
The ponds were really full of water. This emerging White Water Lilly was floating on the water.
The grasses were reflected in the pond.
As we approached the first pond in the wetlands area we encountered a pair of Canada Geese. They didn’t have any young but they were defending their territory. Another goose came flying in and they drove it off.
The trees and bushes were emerging from the long winter.
I was able to capture two birds that I had never photographed before. This elusive Belted Kingfisher was feeding in one of the ponds.
There was also a Northern Flicker feeding on the pond dyke.
The last time we were at Hoffman Hills there were a pair of bluebirds on this house. Tree Swallows seemed to have taken over.
I’ve been watching Eastern Bluebirds, House Sparrows and Tree Swallows as they built their nests this spring.
The female Eastern Bluebird seems to do the bulk of the nest building. She usually tries to bring large amounts of nesting material on each trip. Sometimes so much material that she has trouble getting into the nest.
The Male Eastern Bluebirds doesn’t seem to do a lot of work. He watches the female and sometimes follows her to where she is gathering nesting material. I’ve yet to see the male bring any material to the nest. In fact, one day the male went into the nest and actually brought some material out.
Eastern Bluebird male
The House Sparrows are different. Both the male and female participate in nest building. They are similar to the bluebirds in one respect, they seem to try and bring a lot of material on each trip.
It’s hard to tell if both the male and female participated in nest building since I can’t tell them apart. I have noticed that they bring only small amounts of nesting material on any given trip.
More Bird Photographs can be found on my Website.
I’ve been watching the Tree Swallows as they prepared their nest and raised their young. On this particular morning one to the Tree Swallows seemed to be doing his morning exercises while the mate was tending the nest.
At last report a pair of Eastern Bluebirds had taken up residence in one of two bluebird houses I have in the back yard. They successfully fought off a pair of Tree Swallows that wanted one of the houses.
When we returned after a short trip we found the bluebirds were not in either house. The Tree Swallows had taken up residence in one of the houses.
A pair of House Sparrows were living in the second one. This is the first pair of House sparrows I’ve had in one of my houses.
At one point the female Eastern Bluebird sat on a perch near the houses and watched the goings on.
More photos from Canadian Hill Farm can be found on my website.
There have been an amazing number of Tree Swallows around this spring. On a recent visit to Hoffman Hills Recreation Area they were everywhere.
We were at Hoffman Hills Recreation Area yesterday and spent about an hour watching several pair of Tree Swallows battle a pair of Bluebirds for a single bird house. Apparently there were multiple offers on the house and the contenders kept raising the offer.
The Bluebirds were the only ones that actually went into the house. The Tree Swallows sat on a branch about 20 feet away and would periodically make a run at the house. As soon as the swallows neared the house the Bluebirds would come back to the house and chase them away. The Swallows would the harass the Bluebirds. At the same time another pair of Tree Swallows were dive bombing the pair that was trying to get to the birdhouse.
More photos from Hoffman Hills 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.
Eastern Bluebird male
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.
It’s been an unusual spring for photography at Hoffman Hills. Over a foot of snow the first week in May slowed things down. This past week we have had rain every day. In between I was able to get out and take a few photographs.
The Canada Geese were finally able to start nesting on the first pond. One of the signs of spring is the return of the Canada Geese to nest at Hoffman Hills. The late start makes me think the second week of June the hatch will occur.
Hoffman Hills is generally where I photograph Pussy Willows. This year between the snow storms and the sudden onslaught of warm weather the Pussy Willows were here and gone before I had much of a chance to photograph them.
The Tree Swallows and the Eastern Bluebirds are fighting over housing out in the prairie area. This year the tree swallows seemed to have the upper hand although this bluebird was defending its chosen house.
During the last week of spring and the first few weeks of summer quite a few fledglings have shown up around the farm.
In terms of numbers and frequency of visits the Baltimore Orioles have been the most common. It’s hard to tell if it is just one family or several families. When the Orioles first arrived in the spring there were only a few and they only stayed around the feeder for just a couple of days. Now that the young have fledged they are at the feeder constantly. When they first started coming it was a stitch to watch them. The area around the feeder was loaded with humming birds and the fledglings were constantly ducking when a humming bird flew by.
Rose-breasted Grosbeaks fledglings have also been common around the feeder. They are easily identifiable by the orange on their breast. I’ve see a couple of cases of the adults feeding the fledglings but haven’t been able to get a photo.
One day I looked out the window and saw this young Grey Catbird sitting in a bush right outside the window. It sat there for about a half an hour looking in the window. I took the screen off of the window so I could get a shot and it didn’t move. The adults were hovering in the background and were a little concerned that I was getting too close.
Every year we have some House Finches show up with their fledglings. For about a week the fledglings like to be fed by the parents. There is usually one that continues to try to be fed rather than going to the feeder.
This year, for the first time, I had a fledgling Song Sparrow at the feeder. This is a shot of the adult feeding the fledgling.
There has been a Fledgling Red-bellied woodpecker at the feeder. In this shot the adult and the fledgling were both at the feeder. I did get a shot of the adult feeding the fledgling but it was so dark that the photo didn’t turn out.
Several Downy Woodpeckers brought their fledglings to the suet feeder this summer.
Tree swallows are a rare sight at the feeder. Earlier in the week I had been out photographing the soon to be fledglings in the nest. A couple of days later this one landed near my bird feeders. It was wild eyed with all of the activity around the feeder. It seem terrified of the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds flying around. I can relate because the hummingbirds do make quite the loud noise when flying.
I’ve had some Eastern Bluebirds feeding their fledgling on my deck railing but I haven’t been able to get a photo of them. I did get this shot of the fledgling sitting out in the flowers.