Wildlife

Bird Watching and Wildlife
Located in the rural southwest corner of Leominster, Sholan Farms encompasses 160 acres of diverse property. In addition to the 60 acres of farmland, there are approximately 50 acres of meadows and 50 acres of forest. Much of the meadow areas are overgrown with sumac, brush and vines. The long-term plan is to manage this area much like the apple orchard. We are developing a plan to open up the area and remove undesirable brush. In addition trails will be cut and park benches will be located throughout the area. If you would like to help out please contact the Friends of Sholan Farms.

Several miles of trails meander throughout the farm and into the surrounding Fallbrook area. These include such highlights as lakes alive with beavers, wood ducks, and herons. One trail connects to the Monoosnoc Trail, which traverses the Monoosnoc Ridge. Another trail connects to a steep mountain path that leads to the Devils Pulpit, located high on a ridge above May Street. In late spring and early autumn, you may see large numbers of hawks in the back pasture. You may also spot deer, coyotes, rabbits, bluebirds, and bobolinks while exploring Sholan Farms scenic acres.

The best area for bird watching is in the meadow, which borders Heywood and Fallbrook Reservoirs. There are several overgrown trails, which lead you through scenic meadowlands and forest to a beautiful view of the reservoirs. Bring your binoculars or spotting scope to look out over the wooded hillside, brooks and reservoirs. 

The following is a list of birds, which have been observed in and around the farm. The best time of day to observe is at daybreak or late afternoon. 

Perching

  • Eastern Towhee – Mostly black with red brown sides and white belly
  • Brown Headed Cowbird – Glossy black with Chocolate brown head
  • European Starling – Iridescent purple black bird with white speckles
  • Red-Wing Blackbirds- Jet Black with red and yellow shoulder patch
  • Common Grackle – Large Black bird with iridescent blue black head
  • American Crow – All Black with black bill
  • Black and White Warbler – Striped like a zebra
  • Downy Woodpecker – A small woodpecker with all white belly, black and white spotted wings and red mark on nape of neck
  • Rose-Breasted Grosbeak- Large black and white with large triangular rose patch on center of chest
  • Hairy Woodpecker – Black and White with white belly and rows of white spots. Long black bill and red mark on back of head
  • Pileated Woodpecker – Large crow sized black backed with bright red crested head
  • Tree Swallow – Blue Green with white belly
  • Indigo Bunting – Vibrant blue finch with scattered dark markings
  • Barn Swallow – Blue Black with cinnamon belly and reddish brown chin
  • Eastern Bluebird – Cousin to the robin – is Sky blue with rusty red breast and white belly
  • Purple Martin – Large swallow – shaped bird with – purple head and back
  • Blue Jay – Large bright light blue and white bird with black necklace
  • Belted Kingfisher – Seen perched near reservoir – is large blue gray bird with white belly and a ragged crested head. 
  • Chestnut-sided Warbler- 5” colorful combination of yellow cap and black mask, white face, chin and belly. Also has two yellow wing bars
  • Chipping Sparrow – Small gray brown sparrow with clear gray chest and rusty crown
  • Common Redpoll – Small sparrow like bird with a bright red crown and black spot under chin. Raspberry red on chest
  • House Finch – Orange red face, chest and rump with dark brown markings behind the eye
  • House Wren – Small all brown bird with light brown markings on tail and wings – often holds tail erect.
  • Song Sparrow- Common brown sparrow with heavy dark streaks and central dark spot on chest
  • Purple Finch – Male is raspberry red head, cap and breast with brownish wings and tail. Female is brown and streaked with white. 
  • American Tree Sparrow – Common Sparrow with tan breast and rusty crown
  • House Sparrow – Medium sparrow with large black spot on chin which extends down to the chest
  • Eastern Towhee –Mostly light brown bird with rusty red brown sides and white belly.
  • Cedar Waxwing – Spends most of the time in tall trees – has high pitched whistle- Very sleek looking brown gray bird with pointed crest on head, yellow belly and bandit like black mask
  • Horned Lark – Sleek tan to brown bird. Black necklace with yellow chin and black bill
  • Northern Cardinal – Male is red and female is buff brown with tinges of red on crest and wings and has red bill
  • Killdeer – Nests in gravel area – Have been seen near reservoir and side of road. Upland shore bird with two black bands around the neck. 11” bird is very distinctive. 
  • Mourning dove – Smooth fawn colored dove with black spots on wings
  • Red-Breasted Nuthatch – Small gray-backed bird with a black cap and black eye line. Rust breast and belly. 
  • Black-capped Chickadee-Gray with black cap and throat patch. White chest and tan belly with small white wing marks.
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler – Slate gray bird with black mask and chest. Has yellow patch on head, rump and flank. Has two white wing bars. 
  • Dark-Eyed Junco – Round shape with slate gray to charcoal chest, head and back. White belly with pink bill. Tail appears white in flight.
  • White-Breasted Nuthatch – Slate gray-backed with white belly, and black cap and black neck. Has long thin bill. Belly is chestnut colored. Hops head first down trees.
  • Eastern Phoebe – Gray green bird with dark wings, light olive green belly and thin dark bill. 
  • American Robin – Grey and rusty red with nearly all black head and tail. Has white eye ring. Eggs are blue.
  • Northern Mocking Bird – A show stopper – Very animated. Silvery gray head and back with light gray chest and belly. Tail is mostly black with white outer tail feathers. Black bill. They perform elaborate mating dances and also imitate other bird calls. 
  • Ruby-throated Hummingbird – Tiny iridescent green bird with black throat patch that reflect bright ruby red in sunlight. Flaps wings 50 to 60 times a second. 
  • Baltimore Oriole – Bright, flaming orange bird with black head and back. Orange tail with black streaks. Wings have white and black bars. Gray bill and dark eye. 
  • Orange red face, chest and rump with dark markings behind the eye. Wings are brown with streaks of white. Has white belly with brown streaks and brown cap. Has white rump.
  • American Goldfinch – Perky yellow bird with black patch on forehead and wings. Also white wing bars. Female is dull olive yellow without black crown. Has brown-black wings with white tips and white rump. 
  • Evening Grosbeak- A striking bird with a stocky body, large ivory to greenish bill, bright yellow eyebrows, a brownish-yellow head, black and white wings and tail and yellow rump and belly. Female is similar with softer colors.
  • Eastern Meadowlark – A robin shaped bird with brown back and lemon yellow chest and prominent black V-S HAPED NECKLACE. White outer tail feathers. 

Large Birds of Prey

  • Red Tail Hawk – 19-25” with 4’ wing span. Large hawk with variety of colors from chocolate brown to nearly all white, but all have distinctive rusty red tail. 
  • Turkey Vulture-Large bird 26-32” with 6’ wing span. Has obvious red head and legs
  • Bald Eagle – Have been seen in the area. Large with 7 foot wing span. Dark brown body with pure white head
  • Grey Heron
  • Great Horned Owl – 20-25” Called the Flying Tiger – A robust brown horned owl with bright yellow eyes and v-shaped white bib.
  • Eastern Screech-Owl – Small eared owl which has two color seasons and appears either mottled with gray and white or red brown and white. Has bright yellow eyes.

Ground

  • Ruffled Grouse – Brownish with variegated shades of black and white, chicken like bird with long square tail. Wide black band near the tip of the tail. Tuft of feathers on head stands up like a crown.
  • Ring-Necked Pheasant- Golden brown with long tail and white ring around neck with purple, green, blue and red head.
  • Wild Turkey -Large, plump brown and bronze bird with striking blue and red bare head and fan tail. 
  • American woodcock – The American Woodcock has short, rounded wings and tail, short legs, and very long tapered bill stemming from a thick base. The upper-parts are clad in variegated black, brown and gray; the breast and belly are uniformly pale-rusty, as are the wing linings. 
  • Bobolinks – are known for their noisy bubbling songs and striking black and white plumage. Are becoming extinct. We need to restore the grassland to provide a natural habitat. 
  • Water Fowl – Seen on Heywood and Fallbrook Reservoirs
    Common Loon – Large black and white with checkerboard back and white and black necklace
  • Mallard Duck – Male has large green head and white necklace with brown or chestnut chest and yellow bill. Female all brown
  • Canadian goose – Large gray goose with black neck and head. Has white cheek strap. 
  • Great Blue Heron- Tall and gray with black eyebrow extending into long plumes of the back of the head. Long yellow bill. Has been seen stalking fish in both reservoirs. Nests in treetops over water. 
  • Common Merganser – Long, thin duck like bird with a dark green head and long black back – white sides and chest. Female is rust colored. 

For more information stop by these web sites:

www.massaudubon.org
www.americanbirding.org
www.birds.cornell.edu
www.naturesmart.com

www.audubon.org

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