Most of the birds listed to the left are review list species. Review list species are birds that are sufficiently rare in Illinois that they require documentation.
The Montrose Point area in Chicago is a mecca for birdwatchers. At least 336 species of birds* have been recorded there over the years, including a staggering variety of rarities and vagrants. Among these include Pacific Loon, Magnificent Frigatebird, Reddish Egret, Barrow's Goldeneye, Swainson's Hawk, Black Rail, Wandering Tattler, Ross's, Black-tailed, and Ivory Gulls, Royal and Sandwich Terns, Burrowing Owl, Groove-billed Ani, Ash-throated Flycatcher, Rock Wren, Sage Thrasher, Townsend's Solitaire, Grace's, Kirtland's, and Townsend's Warblers, Golden-crowned Sparrow, Painted Bunting, and Eurasian Tree Sparrow.
Besides the unusual species though, Montrose is an excellent place to observe migration, particularly the spring and fall passerine movement. What makes it so good? A combination of factors such as habitat diversity, location along a natural corridor for migrants, and the fact that Montrose Point protrudes well into Lake Michigan. Additionally, the easy access and small size make it attractive to birders.
*Last species added, White-winged Crossbill on November 20, 2012.
More about Montrose
Location and Description
The Montrose Point area is located within Lincoln Park on the north side of Chicago. The area covered by this guide includes Montrose Point (the land east of the boat harbor), Montrose Beach Dunes, an Illinois Natural Areas Inventory Site*, the boat harbor, the small pond at the north end of Waveland Golf Course, Cricket Hill, and the land as far north as the Wilson Boat Launch. On a map this whole area looks like a curled arm bulging out into Lake Michigan.
In terms of habitat, Montrose Point is open parkland, with scattered trees, copses, shrubs, hedgerows, and grassy fields. Montrose Beach Dunes is a foredune habitat that developed in recent years due to the low level of Lake Michigan. The Dunes consist of a diverse community of beach loving plants, some of which are quite uncommon.
This Google Map of Montrose Point shows the locations of several Montrose hotspots as well as the locations of a few recent Montrose sightings (the map may take several seconds to completely load).
*A statewide list of high-quality natural areas, as designated by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
Aerial Photograph of the Montrose Point Area
Hold your mouse over a number for a description or read the legend. Click to see a close-up photo of Montrose in a pop-up.
- 1)Montrose Harbor
- 2)Golf Course Pond
- 3)Cricket Hill
- 4)Wilson Boat Launch
- 5)The Magic Hedge
- 6)Montrose Beach
- 7)The Meadow
- 8)Montrose Dunes
- 9)Fishhook Pier
What to See and When
Various Photos of Montrose Point
Click a thumbnail to see the larger version.
- Montrose Beach -
View looking west. Note the green gunk in the foreground. Shorebirds love to feed in this stuff.
In April of 2001, a major planting project began at Montrose Point. To protect the new trees and shrubs, a large part of Montrose Point, including the famous Magic Hedge, was fenced off. The fence was removed a few years later and birders can once again traipse around the Point.
Also in 2001, the entire eastern portion of the beach, including the nascent dunes, was fenced off as a protected nature area. Since then, the area is being restored to its natural state and exhibits much of the flora and fauna that is historical to our region.
In 2008 the southeast corner of the point was fenced off to protect the vegetation and to discourage cruising. Access to this area is now impossible, and if you do enter you could be arrested. See the Montrose Frequently Asked Questions page on this website for Montrose do's and don'ts.
A number of car break-ins occurred at Montrose Point during the summer of 2011. If you drive to Montrose always remember to roll up your windows, lock your doors, and take your valuables with you.
Geoff Williamson and Leslie Borns made important contributions to this guide.