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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.

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

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.Eastern-Bluebirds-14-4-_1425

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

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.

Tree Swallow

Tree Swallow


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.

Eastern Phoebe

Eastern Phoebe

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.



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