Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpeckers are year-round residents at Chert Hollow.

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Our trail cam captured this one at the pond’s edge during the severe drought of 2012, when most other water sources had dried up.

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Holes made by Pileated Woodpeckers are distinctively rectangular, and the wood fragments can be quite large, appropriate for our largest woodpecker.

Trumpeter Swan

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Through 2013, we had never seen a swan at Chert Hollow, but that changed in the early months of 2014. Since then, during the winter months, it has become routine to see Trumpeter Swans fly over at low altitude. Their distinctive call alerts us to their presence, and we always welcome a chance to take a break from tree work, look up, and listen to both their call and their wing beats as they pass low overhead.

Snow Goose

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Snow Geese migrate over Chert Hollow in late winter/early spring and in fall. Northbound migration routes seem to pass more directly over us than do southbound ones, as we consistently see the biggest numbers in spring.

Here are some our first-of-year observation dates for north-bound snows:

2007: February 22
2008: February 23
2009: February 17
2010: no data
2011: February 15
2012: January 27
2013: February 6
2014: January 20
2015: February 6
2016: February 1

Kentucky Warbler

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A migratory bird that nests at Chert Hollow Farm. They generally arrive in April, and we routinely see them through the early summer months.

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.