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Tag Archives: eastern bluebirds

Walking around Hoffman Hills we noticed these flowers were blooming.

Prairie Smoke


There were quite a few birds around.

Belted Kingfisher


Eastern Bluebirds

Tree Swallow

Canada Geese Goslings

As we were leaving a Muskrat swam by.


In the spring a pair of Eastern Bluebirds returned to the farm looking for a nesting house. I have two birdhouses, within 10 feet of each other, in my northern prairie and one in my eastern prairie. The two bluebirds picked a house in the northern prairie.


After a couple of weeks the Tree Swallows returned and started battling the bluebirds for one of the houses. I thought the bluebirds had won but when I returned from a short trip the swallows had taken over the house and the bluebirds had moved to a house in the eastern prairie. This same process has repeated itself for the past several years.


In the past, once the first batch of baby Blue Birds had fledged, the bluebirds moved into the unoccupied house in the northern prairie. Apparently Eastern Bluebirds do not use the same birdhouse for their second batch. Last year the swallows were still raising their young in one of the northern prairie birdhouses when the bluebirds moved into the second house about ten feet away. Both species seemed to live in harmony while raising their young in contrast to the battles they have when selecting a house in the spring.

Eastern Bluebird female

Eastern Bluebird female

This year a pair of House Sparrows moved into the second house in the northern prairie. Since House Sparrows raise both batches of their young in the same house I was concerned that the bluebirds would not have house to nest in for their second batch.


While visiting some friends I notice they had a bluebird house just outside of their windows which made it easy to watch the bluebirds. When I came home I decided to purchase a couple of new birdhouses and put one of them up just outside of one of my windows. I thought this would make it easy to photograph the bluebirds should they decide to nest in the new house. Within an hour after I put the new house up the bluebirds from the eastern prairie house were checking it out. They appeared to lay claim to it while still raising their first batch of young at the eastern house.


I was out of town when the first batch of bluebirds fledged and when I returned the bluebirds were nesting in the new house. One of the fledglings turned up and was sitting on the new house while the adult was in the house.


This new house proved to be an ideal location to watch the bluebirds raise their young. The original plan was to photograph them from my window. However, I was surprised to find that the bluebirds didn’t mind if I watched them from my deck so I setup my camera on the deck.


I spent a number of days reading and watching the bluebirds fee their young. During one three hour period the adult bluebirds brought food to the young on an average of every three minutes.


At one point the male bluebird seemed to disappear but the female picked up the slack. When the male did return it was clear that he had taken time out for a quick bath at my birdbath.


More bluebird photos can be found on my website. Just search for bluebird.

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 12-4-_0746

Eastern Bluebird male

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.

A while back I posted a blog about the battle for nesting rights on a couple of my bird houses. The Eastern Bluebirds had taken up residence in one of two houses that are about 10 feet apart. When we returned from a short trip the Bluebirds were gone and a pair of House Sparrows was in one house and a pair of Tree Swallows in another house.


In the past several years the house occupied by the House Sparrows has remained vacant until mid June when the Eastern Bluebirds returned to raise their second batch of young.


The pair of Eastern Bluebirds moved to a nest to the east of the house and are currently raising the first batch of fledglings. They have already hatched and should fledge in a few weeks.


Where are they going to go to raise their second batch this year. I suspected they would not return to the house occupied by the sparrows. As luck would have it I was having lunch at a friend’s house and noticed they had a bluebird house in the yard. When I returned home I decided to put up another house Just outside one of my windows. All of my other birdhouses are out in the prairie area the surrounds the yard. Within an hour the male bluebird was sitting on the house and as soon as the female could get off of the nest she came over and checked the house out. Now the male shows up in the morning to perch on the new house and the female joins him in the afternoon. I’m hoping they will use this house for their second batch.



More Eastern Bluebird photos can be found on my website.

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.

Most of the birds have been around for most of the winter. There are a few exceptions. A Brown Thrasher turned up for a couple of days. This is the first one that I’ve seen on the farm and the only one I’ve photographed.


The Eastern Bluebirds are back and occasionally stop at my feeding station. They mainly use it as a perch to look for insects and as a stopping off point on their way to the bird bath.


The Song Sparrows are back and are getting ready to nest in the pine trees by the house.


I’m amazed that the Dark-eyed Juncos are still around. Normally they have left by this time of year.


The Black-capped Chickadees are around although the numbers thin in the summer.


The Hairy Woodpeckers are around as long as I keep feeding them peanut butter suit.


They Eastern Bluebirds returned about three weeks ago and started hanging around one of my bird houses. They had the houses to themselves until last week when the Tree Swallows returned.

Eastern Bluebird male

Eastern Bluebird male

This year the battle didn’t last long. The bluebirds were much more aggressive in protecting their turf. At one point the male bluebird jumped on one of the swallows and took it to the ground. That seemed to end the conflict and the bluebirds reigned supreme.

Eastern Bluebird male 12-4-_0746

Yesterday I noticed the Bluebirds were starting to bring nesting materials to the house. The male keeps a lookout and the female brings in the nesting material.


Eastern Bluebird female 12-4-_0784 (2)

As summer draws to an end the birds of summer are starting to leave the farm.

As soon as the second clutch of babies hatched the Eastern Bluebirds disappeared from the farm. Usually they hang around for a short time but this year they didn’t. I miss them at my bird bath.

Eastern Bluebird

Eastern Bluebird

I also miss the Song Sparrows. They left early this year. While they were around they were also a frequent visitor to the bird bath.

Song Sparrow

Song Sparrow

The Rose-breasted Grosbeaks are just about gone. A couple of weeks ago I notice this adult and fledgling at my feeders. I still see the stray Grosbeak around the feeder.

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

Rose-breasted Grosbeaks

So far this year I gone through over 48 quarts of grape jelly feeding the birds. Just about everybody likes grape jelly but the Baltimore Orioles seem to like it the most. They turned up in early May in large numbers. After a few weeks they generally leave and for the second year in a row they have returned in early July with their young. There are a few of them still around.

Baltimore Oriole

Baltimore Orioles

The numbers of Ruby-throated Humming birds are declining. they are still going through a gallon of sugar water every few days but they should be heading south soon.

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

Ruby-throated Hummingbird

The Eastern Bluebirds are one of the first birds to return in the spring. This year they spent their first few weeks back checking out the real-estate. They concentrated their efforts on two bird houses in the back yard. They appeared to have made their choice but then the Tree Swallows returned.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6513

Typically the Tree Swallows are more aggressive and once again they pushed the bluebirds out of their first choice for a home and kept them from using the second house that was only 10 feet away.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

The bluebirds ended up picking another birdhouse in another location where they raised their first clutch. Meanwhile the Tree Swallows continued to occupy one of the original houses the bluebirds had staked out. Their young were still in the nest when the bluebirds started showing up and were, once again, at the house next to the Tree Swallows.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow

Surprisingly the Tree Swallows didn’t seem to mind the presence of the bluebirds. This is the first time that I’ve seen this happen. The swallows and bluebirds lived in peace for a couple of weeks until the fledgling swallows left the nest.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6461

I assumed that the bluebirds had already built a nest in the second birdhouse so I decided to setup my bird blind near the birdhouse so I could take some photos. I left the blind unoccupied for a day so the birds would get used to it being near their house.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6679

It has been raining almost every day but early the next morning it was a relatively clear day so I set my camera up in the blind and waited for something to happen. There wasn’t any activity for a while so I started reading my book. It wasn’t long before I noticed a bird on the bluebird house. It turned out to be one of the fledglings from the first clutch. The parents were nowhere to be seen.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6412

Soon I noticed the female bringing grass to build the nest. I had assumed the nest was already built but it had not been and the female started working hard.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6355

I watched for about half the morning while the female gathered dead grass from a pile of grass in the garden. I opened a side vent in the blind so I could see the female bluebird leave the garden and head for the nest. This gave me time to get ready. I turned the camera on to high burst and as soon as the bluebird approached the nest started taking photos.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6346

As the day wore on here loads of grass became larger. In some cases they were so large that she couldn’t get through the hole in the birdhouse. This is when it became interesting because the female kept trying to get in the nest and the grass she was carrying was too big to fit through the hole in the birdhouse. She would then perch on the house before making another try.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6827

The male would occasionally go in the house and would come out with a piece of grass. Mainly he followed the female to the garden and watched while she gathered grass. He would then fly back to the house with her and watch while she worked on the nest.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6366

One time they both were attempting to get into the house. Apparently traffic control didn’t catch the conflict in approach patterns and they both ended up at the birdhouse at the same time. The female peeled off at the last minute.Eastern-Bluebirds-14-6-_6839

I was worried that the presence of my bird blind would scare the bluebirds off but they started using it as a perch while I was in the blind. At one point both of the fledglings were on top of the blind.

In the mist of building a nest in one house the female started looking at the house the Tree Swallows had abandoned. She would land on the roof and went into the house several times. The male also started looking at this house.Eastern-Bluebird-14-6-_6237

The two fledglings from the first clutch were hanging around but the parents didn’t seem to pay any attention to them.Eastern-Bluebird-fledglings-14-6-_6422

It’s rained for about a week and it has been difficult to find something to photograph. I had set up some perches for my Eastern Bluebirds but they didn’t nest in the houses I wanted to nest in. They were the first to arrive this spring but the Tree Swallows are much more aggressive and took over my selected house. They did select another house on another location on the farm so I was still able to get some photos on a rainy day.Eastern-Bluebird-14-5-_0677