Bioblitz at Callaway Farm

Callaway Farm is my (Eddie’s) rural backyard in northern Illinois. In 2012, the 2.5 acres were a corn field and since 2013, I’ve been working on turning it into our backyard bird sanctuary.

To get a baseline of what wildlife is using it in its current state, I decided to do a May bioblitz. I hope to try and do this yearly or if I’m really ambitious, twice a year (again in the fall). Here are the results for May 22nd, 2016.


American Robin – 7 adults plus 2 babies on a nest (found in a Colorado Blue Spruce)
Killdeer – 1
Common Grackle – 3
Red-tailed Hawk – 1 (encouraged by adjacent farming activities that were stirring up rodents)
Vesper Sparrow – 2
Chipping Sparrow – 1
Barn Swallow – 2
Brown-headed Cowbird – 4
Red-winged Blackbird – 1
European Starling – 7


Red Admiral


These are all the types of plants we’ve planted so far.
Norway Spruce
Colorado Blue Spruce
White Spruce
White Pine
American Linden
Eastern Redbud
River Birch

Gray Dogwood
Bush Honeysuckle

Big Bluestem
Woods Aster


Our focus so far has been on trees and shrubs, much of which has centered on a windbreak and a few specimen trees. This spring we have been dedicated to planting around the house in sections. The goal is to get a lot of native plants, but as a compromise, mix in some ornamentals as well.

It is difficult to find pure native plants and the selection is often much smaller. But we still want to try our best to get a lot of native stuff because we have a decent amount of space to work with.

Landscaping is expensive, but we have already seen some results with wildlife attraction. Unfortunately, our trees are pretty small, so not a lot of migratory birds stopped by. But we are surrounded by agriculture, so we hope to provide an oasis for these neotropical birds and maybe entice some more birds to nest.

I really hope to attract more butterflies, so we are going to be adding a lot more flowers as the year progresses.

One final note, which I plan on expanding on more in future posts, is that birdscaping is both expensive and time consuming. Both of these drawbacks need to be addressed and overcome when promoting backyard habitat creation.

We are working with a nearly blank slate, but working up ground, removing grass, and planting large amounts of plants is a lot of hard work too.

It is essential to remember that this is a long-term project that are kids will grow up being involved with. And it is already encouraging that more birds are finding our property and making use of it.

We even had an Eastern Bluebird show up (not on the bioblitz day) and I already have a bluebird box so hopefully some day we will have nesting bluebirds.

Much of the fun is the process and this is still really just the beginning.

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