November is known for rare waterbirds but it’s also excellent for owls. Long-eared, Short-eared, Snowy, and Northern Saw-whet Owls have been reported at Montrose as of November 12. So, while you’re dreaming about alcids and waiting for a Black-legged Kittiwake to fly by, don’t forget to check the Dunes, woods, and shrubs for owls. Look for whitewash, listen for complaining songbirds, and scan open areas for round white lumps.
An adult Buff-breasted Sandpiper graced Montrose Beach on the morning of August 5. This meager photo doesn’t do the experience justice as the bird walked close to the people fortunate enough to be there. Adult is the rarer of the two Buffy age classes we see; most are juveniles that show up later in August and early September. We also had adult Baird’s and Western Sandpipers, the later a rare bird and even rarer age class at Montrose. August is the best month for shorebirds for us, with the peak occuring later in the month. Try to visit the beach as often as possible, including later in the afternoon and evening.
We usually get a nice spillover of migrants into early June, but this year activity has dropped sharply since the peak day on May 19. Migrants are in a hurry to get to their breeding grounds, so they probably took advantage of the favorable weather we’ve been experiencing and continued moving north without stopping. We should get one last push of flycatchers, cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireos, and later warblers sometime in the next week. Spring shorebird migration also continues into June, and a rare gull or tern could show up, so don’t forget to check the beach.
The forecast for this week has changed. We’ll get a shot of warmer air and south winds on Thursday and into Friday, so Friday could be a good day. This change is reflected in the BirdCast forecast showing a sizable movement of migrants into northern Illinois Thursday night. Hopefully some of these birds will hang around for our Spring Count on Saturday.
The weather forecast for the first week of May does not look favorable for a large movement of birds. Chicago will experience north or east winds for most of the week; these conditions will greatly slow down migration, especially for insect eating songbirds. Birds will trickle through but we won’t get any large waves of warblers and other later spring migrants. When this unfavorable pattern finally breaks, hopefully sometime next week, the floodgates will open. What we need are two or three days of deep south winds coming up from the Gulf of Mexico. Keep checking forecasts for updated information.
We’re in for an extended period of mild air and south winds starting Monday, April 10 and lasting the rest of the week. Tuesday through Friday look excellent. We should see an influx of typical mid spring migrants, including both kinglets, Eastern Phoebe, Yellow-rumped Warbler, and a variety of sparrows. LeConte’s and Henslow’s Sparrows are a good bet, and mid April is prime time for Smith’s Longspurs. If you have sick days you should think about cashing those chips in, or maybe find yourself conveniently sick a morning or two this week. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for recent sightings.