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It’s (Mostly) About the Birds

Welcome to my blog about birding Montrose Point in Chicago. I created this blog to report some of my recent bird and nature 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 the website administrator, Robert D. Hughes.

About Me

Robert D. Hughes

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.

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 background in Web development and communications to promote the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary through social media and this blog. You could say I’m a Web guy at heart.

Robert D. Hughes
February 2020

Need a Birding Guide?

I offer guided birding services for Montrose Point as well as other locations in the Chicago area. What are you interested in seeing? Spring warblers? Specialty birds like Henslow’s Sparrow? I love finding and showing birds to people. Contact me for more information. I look forward to hearing from you!

I designed and developed this site and produce most of the content for it and its sister birding website, The Orniphile. I also pay for hosting and deal with the many challenges associated with hosting. Managing these sites is a labor of love – I thoroughly enjoy writing about birds and telling the story of Montrose Point, one of the most popular and renowned bird and nature sanctuaries in the United States. Empowering people with the information they can use to make informed decisions about birding Montrose is a passion of mine. With that in mind, I’m asking for contributions to help offset the hosting and management costs.

I use PayPal for donations. It’s safe, secure, and easy to use. To make a contribution, click the Donate button below and follow the instructions. Thanks!

What’s New

It’s official – Chicago lakefront parks, including Montrose Point, are open. For more information, see the Montrose FAQ page.

Spring migration is in full swing, with blackbirds, a variety of waterfowl, and other early migrants showing up in numbers. See the Sprung is Spring post for an account of what’s being seen at Montrose in early March. And as always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for current bird sightings at Montrose.

Header Photo: White-winged Scoters from Montrose Harbor

Montrose Changes and Updates, April 2021

Metered Parking

The city is adding parking meters to the roads at Montrose Point, starting in the summer of 2021. This will include West Montrose Harbor Drive, the road where most birding visitors park. If you don’t want to feed the meters, you can always park west of Lake Shore Drive and walk in. This is what people did when the city limited access to Montrose in 2020 and 2021 because of COVID-19 fears.

Beach Fencing and Dunes Roping

Montrose Dunes

Montrose Dunes roping (click to see the larger version)

In April 2021, the southeast section of Montrose Beach was fenced and parts of Montrose Dunes were roped off. The beach fencing will protect the Piping Plovers and their habitat, should Monty and Rose use this area for nesting when they return. The Dunes roping will allow vegetation to recover and regenerate. Entering these roped areas is prohibited. Note that if Monty and Rose decide to use a different part of Montrose Beach or the Dunes, that area will also be off-limits.

March 30, 2021 – Lots of Migrants

Rusty Blackbird

Rusty Blackbird (click to see the larger version)

As expected, the strong south winds brought a lot of migrants to Montrose Point on March 30. I ended up with 41 species in a little over two hours of effort, and 57 species were reported on eBird by all observers. Most impressive were the numbers of Northern Flickers coming in off Lake Michigan early in the morning. These birds were migrating north over the lake at night, and when the sun rose they started to head inland towards land and safety. No passerine or other landbird worth its life wants to get caught over Lake Michigan when the sun comes up. The local Peregrine Falcons and Herring Gulls relish hunting these tardy migrants as they make their way to shore. I also had multiple first of spring sightings, including Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, and Lapland Longspur. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.

eBird Checklist
March 30, 2021

Weather and Birding Forecast, March 21 – 24

Chicago Weather Forecast Screenshot

Chicago weather forecast for March 21 – 24 (click to see the larger version)

It looks like we’re in for a nice stretch of favorable migration conditions from March 21 to 24, with southerly winds each day. Montrose should be excellent during this period. We should see an influx of “later” early spring migrants like Golden-crowned Kinglets, Hermit Thrushes, Eastern Towhees, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers, and others. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for current sightings.

March 8, 2021 – Sprung is Spring

Turkey Vulture

Turkey Vulture. Photo courtesy of Tamima Itani. (click to see the larger version)

It’s axiomatic among Chicago lakefront birders that southwest winds in spring produce lots of migrants. Today, March 8, reaffirmed that maxim. I ended up with 42 species in a couple of hours of birding, including a number of new birds for the year. Large numbers of blackbirds and Canada Geese were moving on the south winds, and we had a number of unusual sightings. Best for the morning were

Greater White-fronted Geese – 27
White-winged Scoter – 1
American Woodcock – 1
Turkey Vulture – 1
Merlin – 1
Rusty Blackbird – 2

The favorable conditions will continue for at least three more days, so birding should be good at Montrose for most of the rest of the week.

eBird Checklist
March 8, 2021

Weather and Birding Forecast, March 8 – 11

Chicago Weather Forecast Screenshot

Chicago weather forecast for March 6 – 13 (click to see the larger version)

The forecast for March 8 to March 11 looks propitious for a strong movement of birds, with southwest winds each day. This is an ideal setup for a big push of blackbirds, American Robins, waterfowl, and other early spring migrants. If you can get to Montrose any of these days, by all means do. We wait all winter for a stretch of favorable migration conditions like this.

A Word About the Gate at Montrose

The main entrance to Montrose has been closed a couple of times in the morning since the park reopened in late February. The gate should be open by sunrise but was still locked at 6:30 a.m. and 7:15 a.m. when I tried driving in in early March. If this happens, drive north to the entrance at Wilson Avenue or Lawrence Avenue and enter there. You can also enter the park at Foster Avenue.