Brown Recluse

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The Brown Recluse is a common venomous spider that we encounter almost exclusively in the house, though they are reported to live outdoors as well. We tend to find them in corners of rooms and other locations that get little disturbance. The one in the photo was hanging out in the guest bedroom shower (shortly before I cleaned the shower in anticipation of the arrival of a guest). Brown Recluse are good motivation for keeping piles of clutter to a minimum and piles of clothing off of the floor, since these locations provide them with habitat and hiding places.

In spite of the commonness of these spiders, neither of us has ever (to our knowledge) been bitten, although we have jumped on more than one occasion as a result of a close encounter.

White-breasted Nuthatch

White-breasted Nuthatches are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm. In four years of regular record keeping, not a single month has passed without seeing one (as of Dec. 2014). Though very common, they tend not to occur in large numbers, and sightings usually include one or two at a time.

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Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmice are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm. In four years of regular record keeping, not a single month has passed without seeing one (as of Dec. 2014). They are among our most common birds.

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Wild Turkey

Wild Turkeys are resident breeding birds at Chert Hollow Farm. Observations are somewhat erratic. Sightings are most routine in March, April, and November. Summer months are hit or miss, and deep winter months include the fewest sightings. The regularity of summer sightings in a given year seems to relate to breeding success and foraging opportunities, as well as some degree of observational luck.

Trail cameras are good at documenting turkeys and reduce the observational luck (though we don’t always have trail cameras running year round). This is a trail camera photo from the drought of 2012 (in August, at the pond edge):

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We’ve found two nests, in different years and at different locations, but both in the woods not far from our main field. Here’s a photo of one nest:bio_wild_turkey_nest

Eric took this photo of a mother hen who was circling an area near the house, distressed because one of her poults had gotten trapped in an open crate.

bio_wild_turkey_henDuring fall months, we generally see sign of Wild Turkeys more often than we see the birds themselves. A collection of bare-ground patches, roughly the size of dinner plates, is a good indicator that a flock of turkeys has been foraging.

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We generally enjoy having turkeys around, but they can at times be responsible for crop damage, usually minor in our experience. We’ve documented minor sweet corn damage from Wild Turkeys, and we’ve also seen them eating freshly planted cover crop seed (rye/vetch) in the fall. One year, we planted some wheat that we intended to feed to the chickens; we didn’t get to the work of harvesting it in a timely fashion. In the end, we left it as a food plot for a family of Wild Turkeys that we were able to observe routinely that year.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpeckers are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm.

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Eric took these photos of a female (top, no red) and a male (bottom, with red) at/near our bird feeder.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpeckers are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm. In four years of regular record keeping, not a single month has passed without seeing one (as of Dec. 2014).

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This adult female Red-bellied Woodpecker has been a regular visitor to our bird feeder, and Eric photographed her in that context. Females have red only on the nape; males have red that extends onto the top of the head. The red belly tends to be subtle, and is not visible in this photo.

We learned in the summer of 2015 that Red-bellied Woodpeckers can eat lots of fruit, including apples and tomatoes, as described in this blog post.

Blue Jay

Blue Jays are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm. In four years of regular record keeping, not a single month has passed without a Blue Jay observation (as of Dec. 2014).

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Eric took this photo of a Blue Jay near our bird feeder.

Dark-eyed Junco

Dark-eyed Juncos are common winter residents at Chert Hollow Farm. They typically arrive in October, and our last sightings before summer are typically in March or April, though we have seen one here as late as May 16.

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Juncos are common visitors to our bird feeder, which is where Eric took this photo.

Northern Cardinal

Northern Cardinals are common permanent residents at Chert Hollow Farm. (Nesting has been confirmed though observation of recently fledged young birds during the summer.)

The female in the photo below may have collided with a window before we found her. She flew away not long after Eric took her photo.

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Juniper Stink Bug

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In fall of 2013, these Juniper Stink Bugs (aka Jade Stink Bug) were common in both firewood and lumber piles, especially in a pile of milling scrap from Easter Redcedar trees (a type of juniper).

Identification references:
https://pubs.ext.vt.edu/444/444-356/444-356_pdf.pdf
http://bugguide.net/node/view/35179#names