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Tag Archives: Tree Swallow

My wife and I love to drive the Wildlife Loop in Custer State Park. We usually see the same cast of characters but every once in a while we are surprised. Buffalo are of course the main attraction. In the spring you have a great opportunity to see the young. For some unknown reason the young seem to like to feed in the middle of the road thus creating a traffic jam. In the spring the bulls are hanging out by themselves or with small groups of bulls.

The second most popular attraction is the Begging Burrows. They can usually be found north of the north roundup viewing area. There were no you burros around but a number of the females looked pregnant.

We were lucky to see a number of Pronghorns but no young. A posting from the park indicated that folks started seeing the young a week after our visit.

We also saw a few deer in the park.

Prairie Dogs are common in the park.

We normally try to drive out past the park airport early in the morning. The light is good and the birds are out and about. This is a great place to see Mountain Bluebirds.

The Mountain Bluebirds have the same problem as the Eastern Bluebirds. Their house is just the right size for the Tree and Barn Swallows. It seemed there were fewer bluebirds this year because the swallows occupied most of the houses.

There were quite a few Meadowlarks around.

This was the first time we saw Upland Sandpipers in the park. We saw them on a couple of occasions. The one on the fence post was with the bluebirds.


Red-winged Blackbirds were around.

We stopped at the Blue Bell Lodge for a bite to eat and noticed five Turkey Vultures sitting in the trees around the lodge.

During my last visit to Crex Meadows I was able to photograph a wide range of wildlife.

Red Squirrel

Blanding Turtle

Trumpeter Swans

Tree Swallow

Sandhill Crane

Ring-necked Pheasant


Bull Snake

Blue-winged Teal

A walk through the wetlands area turned up quite a few things to photograph. One of my favorite subjects in the spring is backlit leaves.

There were a variety of birds in and around the ponds. This year the Canada Geese only had three goslings.

Mallard Duck

Belted Kingfisher

Canada Geese

Tree Swallow

The fruit trees were in bloom.

Spring Blooms

Pond Reflections are always a good choice.

Pond Reflections

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 last week the following spring birds have returned to the Farm.

Song Sparrow

Yellow-rumped Warbler

Chipping Sparrow

Tree Swallow

Eastern Bluebird



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