Long-billed Curlew. Photo by L. Munoz. (click to see the larger version)
This is turning out to be a fantastic spring for rarities at Montrose. A Long-billed Curlew graced Montrose Beach on the morning of April 13. The bird flew off after a few minutes but returned a short while later before departing again for good. This is the first Illinois record since 1985 and a new species for Montrose, bringing the site total to a whopping 345.
What else will show up this spring?
Barred Owl (click to see the larger version)
Well, the Barred Owl that was at the Jarvis Bird Sanctuary in Lincoln Park on March 22 wandered north to Montrose (Montrose is about a mile north of Jarvis). This is a big deal for us, the first confirmed Barred Owl record for Montrose and one of only a handful of records for Lincoln Park. Hard to believe I know, but Barred Owls are rare in Chicago; chalk it up to a lack of extensive forest in the city. The bird was viewed and photographed by many. A big shoutout to the mob of American Crows for locating it. To see a list of the birds recorded at Montrose, refer to the Montrose List page.
Long-tailed Jaeger. Photo by Terry Walsh. (click to see the larger version)
How do you spell excitement? L-O-N-G-T-A-I-L-E-D-J-A-E-G-E-R! This juvenile Long-tailed Jaeger, a first for Montrose, was seen there on September 9. I wasn’t one of the observers but still, this is a helluva good bird and long overdue.
To see a list of birds recorded at Montrose, refer to the The Montrose List page on this website.
Barn Owl (click to see the larger version)
This is why it pays to keep birding in June (and why it also pays to track down complaining blackbirds).
I was at Montrose on June 7, looking for late migrants and any oddball birds that might show up. Montrose holds late migrants better than most places and I try to keep birding it until the second week in June or so. At about 8:00 a.m. I heard some Common Grackles and Red-winged Blackbirds making a major league ruckus over something in the trees not far from where I was. I walked over to where they were, expecting to see a Cooper’s Hawk or something else mundane. When I scanned the trees where the blackbirds were I saw a Barn Owl, looking very agitated. I took a few photos, admired the bird for a bit, and walked away. The blackbirds were mercilessly harassing the owl and I didn’t want to stress it any further. After a few minutes, I stopped hearing the blackbirds complaining, so I don’t know if the owl settled in or flew off to calmer pastures. This is about the 5th Barn Owl I’ve seen at Montrose in the 40 years I’ve been birding there.
The Barn Owl was the highlight today but there were also a few late migrants, mostly flycatchers and shorebirds. See my eBird checklist below for details.
Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks (click to see the larger version)
Three Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks were at the east end of Montrose Harbor late this afternoon, August 17. The birds swam around and perched on the boat docks before being flushed and flying off. This is a new site record for Montrose, number 341. Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks have expanded their range to the north dramatically in the last 10 years so this wasn’t unexpected.
Black-necked Stilts (click to see the larger version)
The 2 Black-necked Stilts seen on May 27, 2016 represent just the second record of this species for Montrose (the first occurring in May 2015). Black-necked Stilts have been moving north for a couple decades and now breed in Illinois, so the recent sightings from Montrose aren’t surprising.