Weekend Wildlife

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As spring continues to warm, breathing life into the foliage and blossoms, the birds and other wildlife are becoming more active around the house.

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We spotted two types of birds that we’ve never before seen on the property, the Eastern Kingbird and the Eastern Phoebe, and even saw a coyote trotting down the side of the road early yesterday morning before it ducked into the trees surrounding our “logging” road.

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The Eastern Phoebe has taken up residence in the sheep barn, building her nest atop one of the lights in the rafters.  When she first moved in, she would fly out of the barn every morning and evening when I would approach to take care of the sheep.

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Now she just sits in her nest, like a little queen on her throne, and glares down at me as I move about mucking out the barn and cleaning water troughs.

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Nora also spotted the first hummingbird on Saturday (above), flitting between the partially opened alliums.  She also spent a half hour stalking our pair of tree swallows and captured some good shots (see below).

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Signs of Spring

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We put two nesting boxes in our orchard a couple of years ago.  They sit on opposite sides of the space, probably 200′ or so apart.  Last year, a tree sparrow couple took up residence in the one closest to the house and graced us with a family of 5 that spent the summer pirouetting over the orchard.

A bluebird couple moved in to the 2nd home shortly after the tree sparrows arrived.  The bluebirds are not that common around here – at least not in backyards — so we were delighted to have them move in.

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About a week ago, we noticed 3 tree swallow males vying for one of the houses (tree swallow in photo above).  Within a couple of days, the bluebird couple returned (I like to think it’s the same couple, but honestly, how would I know?) and claimed the very house the tree swallows had been sparring over.  The female has been bringing nesting materials into the house for the past couple of days, as the male sits watch (see below).

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The tree sparrows have stopped fighting among themselves and now have taken to sitting on the fence or the power line overhead, watching in disbelief that they have been supplanted.  No more sparring.  I’m hoping one of them will eventually realize that there is another empty house in the area.

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Not bird related, but Tilly, our corgi, was enjoying the beautiful spring day yesterday as well.  It’s wonderful to see new life all around us.  And did I mention the peepers returned on April 10th!  Always a delightful sign of spring.

See additional photos below from yesterday morning.  It’s so wonderful to finally see the plants breaking through the ground and sending up new shoots. From upper left to right: peonies breaking ground; basal growth on sedum and alchemilla mollis; and on the bottom, rhubarb.

Tree Swallows

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We put this bird house in the orchard last year and were delighted when a pair of tree swallows made it their home.  Our couple returned this year; we couldn’t be happier. IMG_4580

We have a 2nd bird house on the opposite side of the orchard near the sheep, and a lovely pair of bluebirds seem to have taken up residence there.

Per the Audubon website, “The popularity of the bluebird has been a boon to the Tree Swallow, which nests in holes of exactly the same size, and has taken advantage of bluebird houses over much of North America. In regions with no such ready supply of artificial nest sites, the swallows must compete with other cavity-nesting birds, arriving early in spring to stake out territories.”

How marvelous that we have both!