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Birdsong: A sign of Spring

Posted 3/4/2010 5:08pm by Renae Schlatter.

Just this past week I was visiting with a neighbor and we were talking about different types of birds. She has a bird feeder and likes to watch and see what different types come to her feeder. I was thinking how quiet it has been here on the farm all winter with very little bird song. Earlier this week I heard the first Song Sparrow singing for the year. It was music to my ears as it is definitely a sign of the coming spring.

During the spring, summer and early fall months the air is often filled with the songs of many different species of birds. Since we have all of our land planted to grass we often get meadow and prairie birds that haven't been in this area very often before. One of these birds is the Bobolink that is around in late spring/early summer. They generally come and are very noticeable through the nesting season which goes through about June. After the nesting season we don't see them a lot. Another meadow bird that we see and hear is the meadowlark. They are around all summer and into the fall. Blue birds are quite common now also because we have several blue bird boxes on our fence posts. I think some of the blue birds stay around all winter now. The most important way to help the blue birds survive is to keep the common English sparrow out of their nests.

Here around the farmstead we have a lot of barn swallows that nest in our buildings. They are often swooping around and are very helpful in the regard that they eat a lot of flies and mosquitoes. They also go to the pastures and eat insects there. Tree swallows are also very plentiful and almost exclusively spend their time swooping over the pastures catching insects. The barn swallows are usually the first birds up in the morning; you will hear them twittering by 4 in the morning.

There are many other birds that spend their time around our farm; far too many to list. One of the reasons that we can observe this broad range of birds is because our farming practices encourage them to be around. We don't have large machinery that goes to the fields every day. And often when we are out working it is relatively quiet and we can hear them. Since we do not have row crops, and encourage different grasses, meadow birds that are often thought of only being seen in the western prairies are finding homes in our pastures.