Meadowlark Botanical Gardens

We headed over to Meadowlark Botanical Gardens today and arrived just after they opened at 10am. We were there to see what new flowers have bloomed since our last visit and to hopefully see some Baltimore Orioles, as well as any other interesting birds we may encounter.

The fairy garden is back! It seemed to go away over the winter.

The first bird we noticed during our visit was this House Wren near the entrance! We’ve only found this species a few times.

There were definitely more flowers in bloom compared to our last visit a month or so ago!

The large open field just beyond the Volgenau Conservatory was active with swallows! They can be extremely difficult to photograph because of how tiny and fast they are. We managed to catch these two Barn Swallows in the same frame!

We passed by a wonderful variety of flowers as we headed downhill via the wooded area to the west. Ideally, we would note down the species of each flower that we photographed. We didn’t. Flowers still look just as pretty when you don’t know what they are!

Another wren! But this one is a Carolina Wren. We found it at the bottom of the hill near the Springhouse ruins.

Some dogwoods viewed from the side. We know what these are, there are tons of them near where we live!

The gardens contain many nest boxes for birds. Most of them seem to be near the ponds. We saw this one from relatively far away. A Tree Swallow was perched on the wire in front of the box’s opening. A chick poked its head out, asking for food! The parent probably didn’t have food we didn’t see it feed the chick.

As usual, we saw many Canada Geese. Some were grazing on the grass while these seven were swimming in a pond. We haven’t seen any Canada Geese chicks yet this Spring, at least not in the US!

Last year, we often saw swallows perched on trees near the ponds. Today, we saw some perched as well! This Tree Swallow was on one of the smaller trees.

This Barn Swallow was on the next tree.

There were actually multiple Barn Swallows present. Here, the one at bottom right is scratching its head with its tiny little leg!

Another Tree Swallow perched at the end of a branch. It was preening its wing feathers. After it finished, it stood with its super long wings down by its side.

As we continued walking, we enjoyed the beautiful flowers along the path.

A Gray Catbird said hello from a wooded area.

As we continued to walk, we noticed these leaves. Are they lotus plants? The leaves seem to be rather small. They also seem to have been eaten up by insects.

It is quite common to see turtles sunning themselves at the edge of the ponds. We noticed these three! They’re like the three bears! One big, one medium, and one small!

Last year, we saw Purple Martins, a type of swallow, in these nest boxes. Or, perhaps nest droplets? This one was possibly feeding a chick inside, or maybe just checking up on whoever was inside.

Possibly the same adult after flying up to the top of the nest box pole.

As we continued walking, we noticed a bird in a distant tree. A male Northern Flicker!

We continued on to a little island connected to the mainland by bridges. We found an Eastern Bluebird perched on a branch. We haven’t seen very many of this pretty species recently in our home neighborhood.

We noticed this female Red-Winged Blackbird. It flew from place to place. Last year, there was a warning sign in this area due to aggressive nesting Red-Winged Blackbirds!

Flowers come in all sorts of different shapes and sizes!

We backtracked and returned to the mainland and headed to an area where we saw Oriole nests last year. We didn’t find any nests but we did see this pretty Eastern Bluebird just as a very light drizzle started.

There were many birds around but it can be very hard to find them with all the leaves on the trees. We may have found a male Baltimore Oriole but unfortunately only got one terrible extremely out of focus photograph of it. But we did find this yellow bird. It is probably a female Baltimore Oriole! For whatever reason, we seem to find more females of this species.

Although we aren’t sure if we actually saw a male Baltimore Oriole today, we did find this male Orchard Oriole! Unlike the bright orange male Baltimore Orioles, the male Orchard Orioles are a much duller color.

Our most surprising find was this bird! This Ruby-Throated Hummingbird was perched on a branch. These tiny little birds can be incredibly hard to find when they’re zipping around and almost as hard to photograph as flying swallows! Only the males have a ruby colored throat. This is a male though. The iridescent ruby red color only shows up in the right lighting. Today’s overcast sky was not doing it.

Another female oriole! This one seems to be a Baltimore Oriole like the other female we saw before.

We saw a few American Goldfinches throughout our visit today. Some of them were enjoying eating flowers, or the remnants of flowers. Like the Eastern Bluebirds, this is another species that we haven’t seen much of recently near home.

As we started to head back to the entrance, we noticed an Eastern Bluebird approaching the entrance to a nest box. It was holding a little bug. It then fed the bug to a chick! Unfortunately, we didn’t really see the feeding as it happened with the adult’s head inside of the nest box hole.

A few more flowers that we photographed on our way back to the entrance.

We also noticed these. Unripe fruit from some species of blueberry?

The final bird of our visit, right by the entrance. A juvenile Eastern Bluebird! We can see it is not an adult due to its rather spotted appearance.


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