Birds at Holcomb Farm


Checklist of Birds at Holcomb Farm

Compiled by Bird Enthusiast John Weeks

To download a PDF of this list, click here: Holcomb Farm Birds.

☐  Canada Goose

☐  Wood Duck

☐  Mallard

☐  Common Merganser

☐  Wild Turkey

☐  Double-crested Cormorant

☐  Great Blue Heron

☐  Green Heron

☐  Black Vulture

☐  Turkey Vulture

☐  Osprey

☐  Bald Eagle

☐  Northern Harrier (M)

☐  Sharp-shinned Hawk (M)

☐  Cooper's Hawk

☐  Red-shouldered Hawk

☐  Broad-winged Hawk

☐  Red-tailed Hawk

☐  Killdeer

☐  Solitary Sandpiper (M)

☐  American Woodcock

☐  Rock Pigeon

☐  Mourning Dove

☐  Yellow-billed Cuckoo (U)

☐  Black-billed Cuckoo (U)

☐  Great Horned Owl

☐  Barred Owl

☐  Common Nighthawk (M)

☐  Chimney Swift

☐  Ruby-throated Hummingbird

☐  Belted Kingfisher

☐  Red-bellied Woodpecker

☐  Yellow-bellied Sapsucker

☐  Downy Woodpecker

☐  Hairy Woodpecker

☐  Northern Flicker

☐  Pileated Woodpecker

☐  American Kestrel

☐  Olive-sided Flycatcher (M, U)

☐  Eastern Wood-Pewee

☐  Willow Flycatcher

☐  Least Flycatcher (M)

☐  Eastern Phoebe

☐  Great Crested Flycatcher

☐  Eastern Kingbird

☐  Yellow-throated Vireo

☐  Blue-headed Vireo

☐  Warbling Vireo

☐  Red-eyed Vireo

☐  Blue Jay

☐  American Crow

☐  Common Raven

☐  Tree Swallow

☐  Barn Swallow

☐  Black-capped Chickadee

☐  Tufted Titmouse

☐  Red-breasted Nuthatch

☐  White-breasted Nuthatch

☐  Brown Creeper

☐  House Wren

☐  Winter Wren

☐  Carolina Wren

☐  Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

☐  Golden-crowned Kinglet (W)

☐  Ruby-crowned Kinglet (M)

☐  Eastern Bluebird

☐  Veery

☐  Swainson's Thrush (M)

☐  Hermit Thrush

☐  Wood Thrush

☐  American Robin

☐  Gray Catbird

☐  Brown Thrasher

☐  Northern Mockingbird

☐  European Starling

☐  Cedar Waxwing

☐  Bohemian Waxwing (R)

☐  Ovenbird

☐  Worm-eating Warbler

☐  Louisiana Waterthrush

☐  Northern Waterthrush (M)

☐  Blue-winged Warbler

☐  Black-and-white Warbler

☐  Tennessee Warbler (M)

☐  Nashville Warbler (M)

☐  Mourning Warbler (M)

☐  Common Yellowthroat

☐  Hooded Warbler

☐  American Redstart

☐  Cape May Warbler (U)

☐  Northern Parula (M)

☐  Magnolia Warbler (M)

☐  Bay-breasted Warbler (M)

☐  Blackburnian Warbler

☐  Yellow Warbler

☐  Chestnut-sided Warbler

☐  Blackpoll Warbler (M)

☐  Black-throated Blue Warbler

☐  Palm Warbler (M)

☐  Pine Warbler

☐  Yellow-rumped Warbler

☐  Prairie Warbler

☐  Black-throated Green Warbler

☐  Canada Warbler (M)

☐  Wilson's Warbler (M)

☐  Eastern Towhee

☐  Chipping Sparrow

☐  Field Sparrow

☐  Fox Sparrow (M)

☐  White-throated Sparrow (W)

☐  White-crowned Sparrow (M)

☐  Dark-eyed Junco (W)

☐  Scarlet Tanager

☐  Northern Cardinal

☐  Rose-breasted Grosbeak

☐  Indigo Bunting

☐  Bobolink

☐  Red-winged Blackbird

☐  Eastern Meadowlark (M)

☐  Common Grackle

☐  Brown-headed Cowbird

☐  Orchard Oriole

☐  Baltimore Oriole

☐  House Finch

☐  Purple Finch (W)

☐  American Goldfinch

☐  House Sparrow


Italics denote species known or likely to nest at Holcomb Farm or close by

M = migrant; seen passing through in the spring or fall

U = uncommon species; seen only occasionally

R = Rare

W = species present during the winter months only

A Summer Visitor – The Tree Swallow

by Shirley Murtha

Photo by Don Shaw, Jr.
Photo by Don Shaw, Jr.

This season’s featured bird on the Holcomb Tree Trail kiosk is the tree swallow, a lovely bird that made its nest recently in one of the nest boxes on the Tree Trail. The accompanying photo was taken by Don Shaw at the Granby Land Trust’s Dismal Brook Wildlife Preserve’s Stevenson Field but could just as easily have been taken on the Tree Trail just a few weeks ago.

Tree swallows lay 4-6 white eggs in a feather-lined cup of grasses that they make inside the hole of a tree or in a nest box. The feathers, which are gathered chiefly by the males, help to insulate the nest from cold temperatures. Females incubate the eggs for about two weeks; both parents bring insects to the hatchlings. Fledging occurs about three weeks after the hatch. The great majority of tree swallows return to nest in the same area, sometimes even the same box or tree that they used the previous year.

The tree swallow’s East Coast range encompasses areas from Newfoundland down to Maryland. They winter typically in the Carolinas and the Gulf Coast. In the fall, they gather in very large flocks along the coast where they “circle in big eddies like leaves caught in a whirlwind,” according to the Audubon Society’s Field Guide. They are among the first birds to reappear in Connecticut in the spring.

The males are identified by the glossy blue-green on their back and the top of their head, with blackish wings and tail feathers. They have white neck, chest and abdomen feathers. The females, as so often the case with birds, are much less showy, the youngest ones being predominantly brown with just a few bright feathers.

Tree swallows eat mostly insects that they catch on the fly, usually a little less than 200 feet above ground, although they can occasionally take some from the ground or the water.  They sometimes include spiders and small berries in their diet. They are called “income breeders’ as they breed based on food abundance.

Tree swallows have an average lifespan of 2.5 years but have been known to be as old as 12 years in prime habitats.  Almost 80 percent of the hatchlings do not survive their first year, mostly because of cold weather reducing insect availability. Also, they are preyed upon by kestrels, magpies, owls, falcons, and hawks.  In addition, they suffer from the clearing of forests in their breeding areas and the reduction of marshes in their wintering areas, and they compete for nest sites with starlings, house sparrows and bluebirds. Despite all these difficulties, the tree swallows are doing well enough to not be included on the endangered species list.

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