Howard Blum and Terry Walsh found a red morph Eastern Screech-Owl on August 8. Hard to believe but this is the first verified Eastern Screech-Owl record for Montrose Point. Montrose boasts a long list of birds, a list that includes first and second state records as well as many other rare and unexpected species. Eastern Screech-Owl is a common and widespread bird in Illinois, including the Chicago area, but for unknown reasons it went unrecorded at Montrose until Howard and Terry found the August 8 bird. The total number of birds seen at Montrose now stands at 350.
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.
Five species of swallows nest at Montrose – Barn, Bank, Northern Rough-winged, Tree, and Purple Martin. In mid summer, the young and adults of several of these species like to perch on the ropes and fencing in the Dunes. If you want to work on swallow identification and aging, the Dunes provide an excellent opportunity for study and photography. Similar species will often queue up side by side, making the differences between them more obvious. Watching the adults feed their begging children is also entertaining.
A Carolina Wren was a pleasant surprise on July 1. Carolina Wrens aren’t rare in most of Illinois, but the further north you go in the state the less common they are, and they’re uncommon and irregular as far north as Chicago. Oftentimes, and for unknown reasons, they appear in the middle of summer. This is a kind of post breeding dispersal well documented in other species, like Great Blue Herons and Swallow-tailed Kites.
Here we are, almost two full weeks into June, and we’re still getting a trickle of migrants. Avian activity is dominated by the local breeding birds, but these bona fide migrants were at Montrose on June 13
What’s interesting is that the first southbound summer migrants will be showing up in just a few weeks. There almost isn’t a time when birds aren’t moving in one direction or the other, and Montrose Point is one of the best places to witness this near overlap in migrations.
Woody Goss found a Gull-billed Tern on the protected beach late in the day on June 1. This is just the second record for Illinois and a first site record for Montrose. The bird flew off to the south after 30 minutes and has not been seen since. Gull-billed Terns are normally found on the Gulf and East coasts of the United States. They usually don’t stray far from the coast, though there are a number of extralimital records for the eastern United States. This amazing record is a reminder to keep checking the beach for unusual gulls, terns, and shorebirds.
To see the updated list of birds recorded at Montrose, refer to the Montrose List page on this blog.