Friday, 11 May 2018

Tuesday Rambles with David - A Visit to a Century Farm

08 May 2018

     Century Farm is a designation applied by the Province of Ontario to a farm that has been in the same family for one hundred years or more, and a plaque of commemoration is installed accordingly. We are very fortunate indeed to have friends who are owners of such a property and who permit us unfettered access to study and enjoy a memorable suite of grassland birds.

     One of the most visible species is the Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), which is seen swooping and gliding in its pursuit of aerial insects from the moment one drives onto the property.

     When it comes to rest this species is quite confiding and permits a close approach.

     Our first Eastern Kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) of the year was spotted on the farm, albeit at a distance.

     Eastern Meadowlark (Sturnella magna) is one of the classic birds of unspoiled grassland to breed at this location and even though we saw several they were never close enough or clear enough for a photograph. 
     The other bird so closely associated with this habitat and with this farm is the Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) and we had been informed that this species had just returned from South America only two days earlier. Experienced males return first to establish territories and attract several females when they arrive about a week later, this species being highly polygamous. The males, as expected were competing for possession of premium sites.

     Here are four in the same tree.

     Bobolink is a very interesting bird, spending its entire life on the grasslands of the Americas. When it returns from the southern Pampas of Argentina to breed here, the musical trill of the male is quite magical as it floats gracefully over the landscape.

     We were first alerted to the presence of a Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) by its typical song with repeated couplets and this individual was captured flying in.

     We saw at least two individuals - beautiful birds they are and also emblematic of unspoiled grassland.

     The joy of an encounter with Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) is never diminished by its familiarity.

     It could not be said that Grasshopper Sparrow (Ammodramus savannarum) is "familiar" but I know of no better place to find this elusive species with its buzzy, insect-like song, than on this property.

     Lots of Turkey Vultures (Cathartes aura) patrolled the skies looking for carrion, in the meantime enjoying the strong thermals permitting them to soar at will.

     It is always a pleasure to visit the farm and we will never cease to appreciate the privilege. I have another friend who is anxious to see a Bobolink - just guess where I will be taking her!

All species seen: Canada Goose, Mallard, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Eastern Kingbird, American Crow, Northern Raven, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Wren, Brown Thrasher, Common Starling, American Robin, Bobolink, Eastern Meadowlark, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Northern Cardinal. Total: 28


  1. Wow, what a great variety of birds. It is hard to pick a favorite, maybe the Bobolinks. Great outing and photos. Enjoy your weekend!

  2. Beautiful, beautiful birds. And an amazing place. I love the idea of celebrating Centenary Farms.

  3. Preciosas fotos David, las aves son preciosas. Buen día.

  4. A privilege indeed, David - for you, and for us in being able to share the experience through this post on your blog. Thank you. Can I please be added to the list of friends who are anxious to see a Bobolink? I'd also love to see a Brown Thrasher! Wonderful images of the Tree Swallow - I'm amazed that they are so confiding.

    With my love to you and Miriam - - - Richard

    1. Good morning Richard: your name is at the top of the list.

  5. That tree swallow is pretty.
    Always good to have friends who permit you on their farm to view the birds..

  6. Hello David,

    Wonderful birds, and so many different! Here we also have swallows. I think their name are Hirundo rustica.
    I wish you a nice weekend.

  7. So many beautiful birds, David. You are really good to capture their movements.
    Every morning we hear so many birds sing now, it is so lovely...

    Enjoy your weekend,

  8. Hi David.

    What a nice place to be there and to see everything quietly.
    Beautiful birds to admire there.

    Groettie from Patricia.

  9. What a super farm and so many great sightings you had there. Super images and it is so interesting to see the species you see that are different to over here.

  10. Hari OM
    What a lovely concept, to have Century Farms! Special, too, to have connections with one and to have it yield such a rewarding array of birdlife. YAM xx

  11. Another delightful selection of the unknown (to me) birds of N America. A lot of our farmland birds which were common 50 years ago have undergone serious decline recently as a result of changes in farming.

  12. Hello David!
    Very beautiful species of birds!
    And impressive shots and awesome photos!
    Like the Tree Swallow and the Brown Thrasher!
    Great capture of the Turkey Vultures!
    Enjoy your weekend!

  13. I have heard of bobolinks for a million years it seems, but never seen one. They're just lovely. All your photos (and Miriam's) are beautiful. What a wonderful site this is for birding.

    Thanks for your nice comments on my "Harry Fishing" post. Once I see Harry, my aerobic walk comes to a screeching halt!

  14. i don't think the Tree Swallow gets the credit or admiration it deserves. it is such a pretty bird, fun to watch in flight!!

    i don't think i have ever seen a brown thrasher, if i did, i didn't know it!! the flying in image is spectacular. i am not good a flight shots!!!

  15. What a wonderful place to view and photograph all these different birds. The photos are gorgeous.
    Thank you.

  16. Wow, what an amazing place to visit and photograph the wonderful variety of birds. It was a delight to visit your blog.

  17. Hi David,
    It looks like this Century Farm is also a paradise for bird lovers. I am surprised about the number of different kinds birds that can be seen over there. You also had good chances to make a number of beautiful pictures of these birds.
    Greetings, Kees

    1. The owners of this farm are very enlightened, Kees. They do not permit any cutting for hay until all the grassland birds have finished breeding. Making the very last dollar possible does not dictate their moral code.

  18. Looks very mellow and rustic...........

  19. Hello David,
    Wonderful series of photos of the different bird species.
    I think photo 4 and 14 are really great.
    Best regards, Irma

  20. Hello David,
    I can imagine the joy you had strolling around this special farm. So many different birds to be seen. Wonderful pictures you show us here.

    Best regards, Corrie

  21. A spectacular place to watch the birds.
    Beautiful birds, great shots.
    Have a nice Sunday.
    Many greetings
    Maria from
    Divagar Sobre Tudo um Pouco

  22. lovely variety of birds and some great photos from mostly Miriam I see.
    I will be away most of next week so if you do not find me following you know why, I am not taking the laptop with me!!! I will try to get one post in tomorrow before we leave as I have the photos ready
    Take care and enjoy your week Diane

    1. Good idea not to take your laptop, Diane. Enjoy your week away.

  23. Hola David.

    Enhorabuena por las observaciones, las aves son espectaculares y me gustaron todas las fotos, especialmente la cuarta de la golondrina bicolor (T. bicolor).

    Un saludo cordial desde España.

  24. All unfamiliar birds to me, lovely enjoyable array.

  25. I haven't seen or heard a bobolink or meadowlark for years. My Wisconsin grandpa used to take me for rides in the country to listen for both. We'd drive along real slow along the fields where they should be and stop and listen to the concert when we heard one or the other. Wonderful memories!

    1. He was a good grandpa! Now all you have to do is to make a visit here so that we can renew the memories for you!

  26. I didn't expect the colours on the crown of the Tree Swallow to be so attractive. They're a beautiful metallic blue. I've always imagined swallows just being brown all over.

  27. Lovely to see farming helping nature!

  28. What a pleasure it is to see so many different birds! It is comforting compared to the bad news we currently hear about our bird population dropping by 30% in France.
    Wishing you a nice week. Sandrine

  29. Underbara fågelbilder David, kompletterade med din enorma kunskap om fåglar. Någon gång kan du väl berätta hur det hela började med ditt fågelintresse.

    Svalor har alltid haft en speciell plats i mitt hjärta.

  30. Wow! What a beautiful diversity of birds! Great to have friends in such a beautiful place!
    Have a happy new week !

  31. Beautiful settings David. They are exquisite.

  32. Very nice pictures of birds that arrive in these austral regions but I do not know until now is the bobolink , not so easy to see here; the swallow Tachycinetta is very similar to those in my town, one is summer and the other comes from the south in winter; Ammodramus is very similar to the one from here, you have to see it well to differentiate it. The one that is very different from our Mimidae is the Toxostoma, very interesting, although it looks strange to me

  33. Nice environment thanks for sharing.

    Regards, Irma.-

  34. Hi David ... I'll be back for this one - as it reminds me of something else I want to write up - so thank you!! Cheers Hilary

  35. Hey David,
    you had to know how I am enjoying all those photos of the most beautiful birds.
    I wish there were so many beautiful birds in the Netherlands, amar I do something with your pictures :) (That's not bad either, because that's how I learn a lot too.

    Kind regards, Helma

  36. Such a wonderful variety of birds here, great photographs.

    All the best Jan