The Callaway Farm is located in rural DeKalb County in northern Illinois.
Size: 2.5 acres
USDA Plant Hardiness Zone: 5b
A Quick History
In 2013, Eddie and Stacia finished construction on a custom home, converting what was part of a cornfield into the beginning of their homestead: the Callaway Farm. The house sits on 2.5 acres, surrounded by endless acres of crops. There is an unfortunate lack of trees, but we are working on planting a bunch to provide cover for birds and a wind break for the relentless galls that bombard us.
This area used to be pristine prairie and the soil is some of the best in Illinois and possibly the country. While some might find the surrounding landscape flat and boring, the unrestricted views are astonishing. From our backyard we can see landmarks some 30 miles away.
Birdscaping Project Timeline
2013: Planted 21 trees: including 10 Norway Spruce, 8 Colorado Blue Spruce, 1 American Linden, 1 Honeylocust, and 1 Magnolia.
2014: Planted 18 spirea shrubs, not exactly the most wildlife friendly but seem to attract butterflies
2015: Planted 3 trees, 12 shrubs, and 7 flowers
2016: Planted 31 trees: including 17 White Pines, 11 White Spruces, 2 River Birches, and 1 Elm (note, the pines and spruces are for a windbreak as well as cover)
Callaway Farm Bird List
The birds are sorted by taxonomic order according to The New Stokes Field Guide to Birds Eastern Region by Donald & Lillian Stokes, published in 2013.
Year(s) sited is in ( ). Some sightings might have happened earlier but were not recorded so I have used the most recent year. In the future, I will try and keep better records.
- Canada Goose (2013-2016)
- Mallard (2015)
- Great Blue Heron (2015)
- Bald Eagle (2018)
- Northern Harrier (2013, 2015)
- Cooper’s Hawk (2013)
- Red-tailed Hawk (2013)
- American Kestrel (2015-2016)
- Sandhill Crane (2016)
- Killdeer (2013-2018)
- Rock Pigeon (2013-2018)
- Eurasian Collared Dove (2013)
- Mourning Dove (2013-2016)
- Snowy Owl (2014-2015, 2019)
- Great Horned Owl (2018)
- Ruby-throated Hummingbird (2015)
- Red-bellied Woodpecker (2015)
- Northern Flicker (2016)
- Blue Jay (2015)
- American Crow (2013-2016)
- Horned Lark (2013-2019)
- Barn Swallow (2013-2018)
- Tree Swallow (2013-2018)
- American Robin (2013-2018)
- European Starling (2013-2016)
- American Tree Sparrow (2014-2019)
- Chipping Sparrow (2013-2015)
- Vesper Sparrow (2013-2016)
- Savannah Sparrow (2015)
- Lark Sparrow (2018) [deceased]
- Dark-eyed Junco (2013-2016)
- Snow Bunting (2014)
- Carolina Wren (2018)
- Northern Cardinal (2014, 2016)
- Bobolink (2014)
- Red-winged Blackbird (2013, 2016)
- Western Meadowlark (2013-2015)
- Common Grackle (2013-2015)
- Brown-Headed Cowbird (2014-2016)
- House Finch (2015-2016)
- American Goldfinch (2014-2018)
- Lapland Longspur (2018)
Some interesting notes on bird sightings:
Snowy Owl: we have had up to three of these at one time, including one that perched repeatedly on our roof.
Ruby-throated Hummingbird: one hovered a couple feet from me while I was weeding newly planted rose bushes.
Mixed flock of several hundred Horned Larks, Lapland Longspurs, and Snow Buntings that feasted on birdseed on our patio for several days.
Mallard nested under Blue Spruce and was chased by our Nova Scotia Duck-Tolling Retriever. She laid several eggs but sadly some wild animal got to all before hatching.