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