If you want to know what’s going on bird-wise at Montrose, there’s no better resource than eBird. Migration is picking up and more people are reporting their sightings using this invaluable tool. Click the image below to be taken to the Montrose Point eBird hotspot.
You may have heard or even noticed that the water level on Lake Michigan is very high this summer. According to NOAA, it’s at a 22 year high and near the all-time high. I took this photo at the mouth of Montrose Harbor in July 2020. The water is so high it’s spilling over the piers at the harbor mouth. In past years fishermen would be using these piers; the only creatures using the piers now are waterfowl and gulls.
On June 22 the city reopened the Chicago lakefront trails after being closed for 3 months. The lakefront trails are the paths in the lakefront parks for running, walking, and bike riding. The trails extend out to and through Montrose Point, so accessing the Point is possible, but only on foot or by bike (parking is not allowed at this time). Note that activities such as picnicking, going to the beach, playing sports, and gathering in groups are prohibited.
I live about a mile from Montrose and I started walking there when the trails reopened. The park looks very different from when I last visited in late March – a lot greener, with many fewer people, and an even higher Lake Michigan. Breeding season is in full swing with lots of begging immature birds around. Monty and Rose, the pair of Piping Plovers that nested at Montrose in 2019, have returned and are raising a family again in the Dunes. As of this writing, they have 3 ping pong ball-sized downy young. The male Red-winged Blackbirds are in attack mode and sparing no one. The first southbound shorebirds are starting to appear, signaling the beginning of migration.
If you want to visit Montrose you’ll have to walk in until the park fully reopens. I don’t know when this will be. People have been parking west of Lake Shore Drive and walking in, not very convenient but the only option available now. I’ve included a link to one of my eBird lists from a recent visit, URL below. Also, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot to find out what’s being seen there.
June 29, 2020
On March 26, 2020, the city of Chicago closed all of Lincoln Park, including Montrose Point, to the public to limit the spread of COVID-19. It’s unclear how long Montrose will be closed. It could be weeks, it could be months. DO NOT attempt to access Montrose (or any other part of Lincoln Park) while it is closed – you could be fined or even arrested.
If you want to know (and be in the know) what’s going on bird-wise at Montrose Point, there’s no better resource than eBird. Migration is picking up and more people are reporting their sightings using this invaluable tool. Click the image below to be taken to the Montrose Point eBird hotspot.
Knowledge is power.
2019 was a phenomenal year for birds and birding at Montrose, both for migration and the number of rarities and vagrants seen. We also had a historic nesting record. I can’t remember a more exciting year, and I’ve been birding Montrose for over 40 years. Some of the notable happenings include (underlined text points to a story on this blog)
- Ancient Murrelet (first site record, fourth state record)
- Cassin’s Kingbird (first site record, first state record)
- Long-billed Curlew (first site record, first state record in 40+ years)
- Black Vulture (first site record)
- Barred Owl (first site record)
- Townsend’s Warbler (second site record)
- Snowy Plover (third site record)
- Black-bellied Whistling-Duck (second site record)
- Nesting Piping Plovers (first successful nesting in Chicago in over 50 years)
By my tally, at least five new species were added to the list of birds recorded at Montrose, bringing the total to 348. This is above the 2-3 yearly average for the last few years. I’m not sure why 2019 was so special but 350 is within striking distance and will likely happen in 2020. To see a list of birds recorded at Montrose, see the Montrose List page on this site, URL below.