Welcome to my blog about birding Montrose Point in Chicago. I created this blog to report some of my recent sightings from Montrose. I’ll also write about non-Montrose bird sightings from time to time. Thanks for visiting and good birding. Unless stated otherwise, all images and content were created by and are the property of Robert D. Hughes; any unauthorized use is prohibited. Questions or comments? Contact Robert D. Hughes.
Photo by Karen Mansfield
I’ve been birding since 1978 and much of that time has been spent at Montrose. I’ve never lived far from Montrose so it’s always been easy for me to bird there before or after school or work. You could say that Montrose has been my obsession and love, and sometimes my disappointment.
I was born, raised, and currently live in Chicago. My professional background is in webmastering, front-end Web development, and content management. I also write about Web development issues and get social with social media. My non-work life revolves around my family, birding, and managing my extensive online presence.
Robert D. Hughes
January 17, 2018
Semipalmated Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
We’re in the gray area for shorebird migration. The first southbound shorebirds should start appearing any day now (Least Sandpipers and Lesser Yellowlegs) if they haven’t appeared already, but a few shorebirds could still be moving north. This morning, June 24, I saw a Semipalmated Sandpiper at Montrose Beach. I tend to think this bird is a very late northbound migrant as opposed to a very early southbound migrant. We see Semi Sans regularly at Montrose well into June; I think this bird is at the tail end of that trend.
King Rail (click to see the larger version)
The King Rail continues at Montrose. This morning, June 14, I saw it walking and feeding in the grass and water next to the fishing pier at the base of the pier. It appeared to be healthy and put on quite a show for me. This is the first time I’ve seen this (presumably) continuing bird. Thanks to Andrew Aldrich for alerting me to its presence.
We also had a few late migrants and surprises, including Mourning and Blackburnian Warblers, Dickcissel, Orchard Oriole, Wood Thrush, and Bonaparte’s Gull. See? It pays to keep birding into June.
Barn Owl (click to see the larger version)
This is why it pays to keep birding in June (and why it also pays to track down complaining blackbirds).
I was at Montrose on June 7, looking for late migrants and any oddball birds that might show up. Montrose holds late migrants better than most places and I try to keep birding it until the second week in June or so. At about 8:00 a.m. I heard some Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds making a major league ruckus over something in the trees not far from where I was. I walked over to where they were, expecting to see a Cooper’s Hawk or something else mundane. When I scanned the trees where the blackbirds were I saw a Barn Owl, looking very agitated. I took a few photos, admired the bird for a bit, and walked away. The blackbirds were mercilessly harassing the owl and I didn’t want to stress it any further. After a few minutes, I stopped hearing the blackbirds complaining, so I don’t know if the owl settled in or flew off to calmer pastures. This is about the 5th Barn Owl I’ve seen at Montrose in the 40 years I’ve been birding there.
The Barn Owl was the highlight today but there were also a few late migrants, mostly flycatchers and shorebirds. See my eBird checklist below for details.
Great Egrets (click to see the larger version)
Migration is still going on at Montrose, albeit at a slower pace than a week or 2 ago. A check of eBird for today, May 27, shows over 85 species reported, not half-bad for the final days of May. Montrose holds late migrants better than most other places; I keep birding it until about June 10. Some folks bird it through the month. One of my highlights today was this flock of 17 Great Egrets that came winging over.
Loggerhead Shrike. Photo by Mike Ferguson. (click to see the larger version)
This continues to be a stellar spring migration at Montrose Point. Today, May 24, was a bit weak for migrants but we made up for the lack of variety with 2 outstanding rarities. The more significant rarity was a Loggerhead Shrike, a bird I haven’t seen there since the 1990’s. That’s right, since the 20th century. The second and lesser rarity was a Bell’s Vireo, a bird that is less than annual at Montrose. Both birds were seen and enjoyed by multiple observers.
Here’s to a final week of May that’s bursting with migrants.
Passerines feeding on flies (click to see the larger version)
If you were at Montrose on May 5 you probably noticed the many passerines feeding in the tops of trees that were leafing out. These birds – Gray Catbirds, Swainson’s Thrushes, Baltimore Orioles, and a variety of warblers and sparrows were feeding on small flies. I also saw a Prothonotary Warbler and White-eyed Vireo doing the same. I’m not sure what kind of flies these were, possibly midges, but it was enjoyable to watch normally ground dwelling birds up high and above eye level.
This photo shows Red-winged Blackbirds, White-throated and White-crowned Sparrows, Gray Catbirds, and a Swainson’s Thrush, all feasting on flies.