Snowy Owl (click to see a larger version)
Two Snowy Owls were at Montrose this morning. I was at the end of the fishhook pier doing a lake watch when Andy Sigler alerted me to the first bird, which from what I understand was initially inside the native planting area (of Sage Thrasher and Lark Bunting fame) at the southeast end of Montrose. As we were walking back on the pier we saw the bird flying low over the dunes at the east end of the beach. It eventually landed on the plastic boardwalk just west of the protected area and stayed there until flushed by an unleashed canine. The bird flew back to the east and landed on the pier about 200 hundred yards in front of me. Eventually the bird flushed and flew south over the lake. We were able to relocate it on some rocks near Belmont Harbor, which is about a mile south of Montrose. The bird flushed once again after a few minutes and re-landed along the lake near Fullerton Avenue, about 3 miles south of Montrose. After a few minutes it flushed yet again and we lost sight of it. The second Snowy Owl flew in from the north and landed on the fishhook pier a few minutes after the first bird left. This bird stayed longer and was seen by many people.
The photo above is of the first Snowy Owl. Based on the extensive white bib, white nape, and limited tail barring I believe this individual is an immature male. Adult male Snowy Owls are nearly completely white while females are more heavily marked. The second Snowy Owl was similar in plumage to the first bird. These are the first Snowy Owls for Montrose in about 5 years.
Townsend's Solitaire. Photo by Josh Engel (click to see a larger version).
Josh Engel found a Townsend’s Solitaire at Montrose on the morning of November 16. Unfortunately this bird was literally a one hour wonder and was seen by only a handful of people. Ironically this bird fed on berries in the same tree that the Sage Thrasher had been using. This is only the second record of this species for Montrose, the first being in 2008.
Sage Thrasher (click to see a larger version)
The Sage Thrasher has been at Montrose for two weeks now. I saw it this morning, November 12, near the small stand of cedars at the east end of the point. We’ll see how long it hangs around. There were also a couple Short-eared Owls at Montrose this morning.
Brown Creeper (click to see a larger version)
I saw this Brown Creeper at Montrose this morning. Brown Creepers are songbirds that make a living climbing up tree trunks in search of insects and other arthropods. This bird froze for a few seconds in response to a nearby Cooper’s Hawk. The streaky brown plumage makes for excellent camouflage, and when they don’t move they almost disappear against the bark of a tree.
The Common Gallinule was still at Montrose today. This morning it was on the beach inside the protected area at the base of the fishhook pier. It had previously been inside the boat harbor. Other birds seen at Montrose this a.m. include about 20 flyby Common Loons, 10 Snow Buntings, 8 or so Pine Siskins, and a Purple Finch. I’ve included a photo of some of the Pine Siskins.
Short-eared Owl. Photo by Kanae Hirabayashi.
Two Short-eared Owls were at Montrose yesterday morning. Both birds flushed from the dunes at the east end of the beach. Short-eared Owls are regular mid and late fall visitors to Montrose, and they occur most often after the passage of a cold front with accompanying westerly winds. When they flush from the dunes they often end up out over Lake Michigan where they are often set upon by marauding gulls. The photo at right was taken by Chicago birder and Montrose regular Kanae Hirabayashi.