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Temperature 60F Winds NW at 35.

We started out with rain showers this morning, and then it became sunny and warm this afternoon: kind of reminds me of spring. The daffodils and crocus are coming up now.

I started this trail with two house exactly 3 years ago and have now grown it to 6 houses. Each pair is territorial and needs and acre to themselves. Any closer, it seems not to work out ! I have used several types of houses. All have pole guards and entrance guards to protect them when incubating and to protect the hatchlings later on. Here are some examples; and the Eastern Bluebirds are house hunting today. They used 3 houses out of 5 last year and fledged 7 broods (avg: 4 birds per brood):

I started pre season cleanup today but because of the long cold winter, I am waiting to clean out the last year’s nesting material until after March 1. Also, Eastern Blue Birds  needs lots of low cut grass to forage in, so this grass needs to be cut very short:

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This time (at 5 PM) he/she landed in a tree in the backyard and I was able to sneak out the front door and around the house; he saw me as soon as I rounded the house; but, I did get a few capture photos before he was gone:

 

 

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Soaring quietly from a high tree branch, this Red Tail Hawk missed a vole in the ice (taken with a Canon 5D MK II with a Canon 400mm Lens):

 

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On February 2nd, which was a misty, cloudy day; just before dark, a Barred Owl landed on a fence post in my yard. As I was preparing the camera to get a photo, he flew about 75 yards to a bluebird house where he spent 15 minutes scanning for prey. Since then I have seen him one more time. He appears to have been born last winter.

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The picture of him leaving the post is not clear (did not have time to set the speed due to the dark weather), but the 2nd photo is a very long shot with a 600 mm Lens (about 100 yards), and is OK considering the distance and conditions:

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No.  Not Barn swallows; which are common in all the old dry barns of NW Arkansas. They are similar in appearance though. The Cliff swallow has a white forehead and a stubby tail compared to the long forked tail barn swallow.

The gregarious Cliff Swallow nests in large colonies on buildings, cliffs, and under bridges. The gourd-shaped mud nests can number up to several hundred or thousand in a single location.

 

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Adult Description

  • Small, long-winged stocky songbird.
  • Small bill.
  • Wings long and pointed.
  • Throat dark.
  • Tail square.
  • Rump pale.

Immature Description

Juvenile looks similar to adult, but has brown, not blue-black, on the crown and back, and variable dark or pale throat and forehead.

Cool Facts

  • When a Cliff Swallow has had a hard time finding food, it will watch its neighbors in the nesting colony and follow one to food when it leaves. Although sharing of information about food at the colony seems unintentional, when a swallow finds food away from the colony during poor weather conditions it may give a specific call that alerts other Cliff Swallows that food is available. By alerting other swallows to a large insect swarm an individual may ensure that the swarm is tracked and that it can follow the swarm effectively.
  • Although the Cliff Swallow can nest solitarily, it usually nests in colonies. Colonies tend to be small in the East, but further west they can number up to 3,700 nests in one spot.
  • Within a Cliff Swallow colony some swallows lay eggs in another swallow’s nest. Sometimes the swallow may lay eggs in its own nest and then carry one of its eggs in its bill and put it in another female’s nest.
  • When young Cliff Swallows leave their nests they congregate in large groups called creches. A pair of swallows can find its own young in the creche primarily by voice. Cliff Swallows have one of the most variable juvenal plumages, and the distinctive facial markings may help the parents recognize their chicks by sight too.

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Taken yesterday at 1/1250 sec with a Canon 7D with a 300mm f/2.8 IS Lens in low light. These guys have mobbed my yard in search of drinking water. Thunderstorms formed to the east and then south of my home yesterday afternoon; we did not get a drop.

Actually is misread the rain gauge; we did get 0.10 inches of rain.

 

 

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I have to keep reminding myself that we are only 2-3 weeks from drought conditions starting over again ! However  as of last week, even before 1.5 inches of heavy rain, things are Looking Up !! This information from NOAA.

 

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