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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 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.

About Me

Robert 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

Cackling Geese, White-winged Scoters, and Great Black-backed Gull, February 24, 2018

I spent a couple hours at Montrose today, February 24. It was a cold morning and the east winds off Lake Michigan made it feel even chillier. I ended up with 23 species for my effort, not particularly impressive, but I did have a few bona fide spring migrants. My highlights include

Cackling Geese – 4 flying north with a group of Canada Geese
White-winged Scoters – 2, 1 in the harbor and the other near the end of the fishing pier
Northern Pintail – 6 flying north over the lake
Gadwall – 3 with the pintails
Great Black-backed Gull – 1 first/second cycle bird at the beach

The fishing pier is now ice-free and the massive ice shelves on the beach have disappeared. Our local wintering Snowy Owl is probably not too thrilled about this.

eBird Checklist

Snowy Owl, February 17, 2018

I had a Snowy Owl at Montrose this morning, February 17. This is the first Snowy Owl I’ve seen at Montrose in several weeks, my last sighting being January 21 (see the post below). The bird was at the end of the fishing pier, the first place you should look for Snowies if you visit Montrose to look for them. While I was watching the Snowy, an adventurous (foolish, really) young man walked all the way to the end of the pier and flushed the bird a couple times. Most of the pier is still covered in ice and snow and most definitely treacherous to walk on; a person could easily end up going for a swim in Lake Michigan if not careful. The only other birds of interest I saw this a.m. were a White-throated Sparrow and a Swamp Sparrow, both feeding with House Sparrows near the main entrance to the sanctuary.

Snowy Owls, January 21, 2018

Snowy Owl

Snowy Owl (click to see the larger version)

This continues to be a banner winter for Snowy Owls along the Chicago lakefront. This morning, January 21, I had 2 Snowies at Montrose, both at the east end of the beach. One bird was on the fishing pier and the other was on the ice shelves on the beach. Despite the warmup we’re currently experiencing, the fishing pier still has ice in places; if you venture onto it be careful or you could end up in the lake.

eBird Checklist

Short-eared Owls, October 28, 2017

Short-eared Owl

Short-eared Owl (click to see the larger version)

I had a fine morning of birding at Montrose today, October 28, highlighted by 3 Short-eared Owls in the dunes, including this perched individual. This may be the first Short-eared I’ve seen at Montrose that wasn’t flying. Days with brisk west winds in late October are best for seeing these birds at Montrose.

eBird Checklist

Short-eared Owl, Northern Shrike, Le Conte’s Sparrows, and Black-throated Blue Warbler, October 21, 2017

Montrose wasn’t quite as birdy (for me) as on Thursday, but it was still pretty good today, October 21. I ended up with 47 species in a little over 2 hours of effort, highlighted by

Baird’s Sandpiper – the continuing juvenile
Semipalmated Sandpiper – the continuing molting first cycle bird
Short-eared Owl – 1 in the dunes
Northern Shrike – 1 in the dunes
Black-throated Blue Warbler – female near the Magic Hedge
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 2 in the dunes

The Northern Shrike was my bird-of-the-day; I haven’t seen one at Montrose in a few years. Maybe this will be a flight year for them. The algae mat continues at the east end of the beach, and it continues to attract shorebirds and ducks. The dominant passerine was Swamp Sparrow.

eBird Checklist

Short-eared Owl, Nelson’s and Le Conte’s Sparrows, October 19, 2017

Green-winged Teal

Green-winged Teal (click to see the larger version)

I spent a couple hours birding Montrose this morning, October 19, and it was inexplicably good. By inexplicable I mean no cold front passed the night before and no cold front is expected to pass until next week, so I don’t know why today was so productive. The increase in sparrow activity compared to yesterday was noticeable – today may have been “the” sparrow day of the fall at Montrose for me. I ended up with 54 species, highlighted by

Black-crowned Night-Heron – 3 immature birds flying around the point. Getting late.
Baird’s Sandpiper – the continuing juvenile bird
Semipalmated Sandpiper – the continuing first cycle bird
Franklin’s Gull – 2 first cycle birds
Short-eared Owl – 2 in the dunes
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 2, 1 in the dunes, the other in the native planting area
Nelson’s Sparrow – 1 in the native planting area

The algae mat at the east end of the beach continues to attract good numbers of shorebirds and ducks (where was this mat 2 months ago when we needed it?)

eBird Checklist