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.
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. When I’m not working I apply my passion for communication to promoting the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary through social media and this blog. You could say I’m a Web guy at heart.
Header Photo: White-winged Scoters from Montrose Harbor
Well, the Barred Owl that was at the Jarvis Bird Sanctuary in Lincoln Park on March 22 wandered north to Montrose today, March 23 (Montrose is about a mile north of Jarvis). This is a big deal for us, the first confirmed Barred Owl record for Montrose and one of only a handful of records for Lincoln Park. Hard to believe I know, but Barred Owls are rare in Chicago (chalk it up to a lack of extensive forest in the city). The bird was seen and enjoyed by many. A big shoutout to the mob of crows for locating it.
Today was a good day to look at Lake Michigan – overcast skies, a flat surface, and excellent visibility most of the way to the horizon, perfect conditions for looking for birds on the water. While scanning the lake I found several groups of White-winged Scoters, a female Black Scoter, and 4 Long-tailed Ducks. The White-winged Scoters (~20) were scattered in small flocks 1/5 to 1/4 mile offshore from the fishing pier. With one of these flocks was a female Black Scoter, a good bird for Montrose in the spring. Finally, I saw a group of Long-tailed Ducks flying south far offshore. These birds landed eventually but disappeared because of distance. Also of note were about a dozen Double-crested Cormorants on the water crib a couple of miles offshore from Montrose, the beginnings of the nesting colony. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Birding has been slow this winter at Montrose. My best days have maxed out at between 20 and 24 species. This is typical but in some years we at least have Snowy Owls to keep us entertained and to pass the time until spring and migration arrive. Not this year. Not one Snowy Owl has been reported at Montrose this winter.
Today, February 22, was no different; I tallied 24 species in 90 minutes of birding, but the ice formations on Lake Michigan made the long walk out onto the fishing pier worthwhile. I’m always impressed by the geometry of these formations. In this picture, one of the pieces in the foreground looks perfectly square, the piece above it looks perfectly rectangular, and the large piece to the left looks trapezoidal. Nature’s artwork. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
The long-staying Piping Plover was still at Montrose Beach on November 22. This is now the latest Piping Plover record for Illinois, the previous late record being November 21 from Mendota in 1982. Most of November has been unusually cold in Chicago, with high temperatures in the 30s and nighttime lows even colder for the last couple weeks. It makes you wonder what the bird has been eating – invertebrate activity must be seriously depressed in such cold conditions. This bird also survived at least one close encounter with a Cooper’s Hawk. We’ll see how long it holds on. Link to my eBird checklist below.
I spent a couple hours at Montrose on Thursday, November 8. The female type Harlequin Duck was inside the fishing pier and the Piping Plover continues on the beach. The Plover has been present for 3 weeks now. My best passerine was a very late Swainson’s Thrush near the Magic Hedge. A strange mix of birds for November. I ended up with 43 species for my effort. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
Baird’s Sandpiper (click to see the larger version)
I wasn’t even going to bird this morning (November 4) because of rain in the forecast, but when I looked out my window at 7:30 I saw no rain, so I grabbed my gear and headed over to Montrose. I tallied a whopping 20 species for my effort, unimpressive even by early November standards. But, BUT, 25% of that tally consisted of good birds – Harlequin Duck (off the end of the fishing pier, found by Krzysztof Kurlyowicz), Black Scoter (2 flybys, found by Steve Huggins), Red-necked Grebe (flyby), Piping Plover, and Baird’s Sandpiper. The Baird’s (2 juveniles) represent one of the latest records of this species for Montrose, continuing the trend for late birds started by the Piping Plover.