It’s late August and Elderberry fruit are ripening. A variety of birds eat the juicy berries, including several warblers, vireos, thrushes, and House Finches. To find the berries and the birds, look for clusters of small, purplish fruit on shrub-like plants. The photo accompanying this post shows what the berries look like. The stand of Elderberry at the edge of the woods at the far southeast corner of the Point has been excellent for birds this August.
We’re about a month from the peak of songbird migration but we’ve been seeing small numbers of warblers and flycatchers for a few weeks. This is typical and expected. Migration starts as a trickle and gradually gains momentum until the peak. Some of these early migrants include Least, Yellow-bellied and Olive-sided Flycatchers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and Cape May, Bay-breasted, and Black-and-white Warblers among others. August is shorebird month but after you’re done checking the beach head up to the Magic Hedge for some early warblering.
A juvenile Piping Plover was at Montrose Beach on July 26 and 27. Montrose Beach is best known as the home of Monty and Rose, but it also hosts migrant Piping Plovers that are going to or coming from other parts of the Great Lakes and possibly the Great Plains. This Piping Plover was not banded, so where it came from is unknowable.
An impressive flight of shorebirds took place on the morning of July 24. These birds were probably grounded by the rain that lasted most of the early morning, and may have been moving ahead of an approaching cold front, as migrating summer shorebirds often do. My list includes
Semipalmated Plover – 1
Ruddy Turnstone – 3
Sanderling – 60
Least Sandpiper – 1
Pectoral Sandpiper – 2
Semipalmated Sandpiper – 16
Short-billed Dowitcher – 4
Lesser Yellowlegs – 3
Except for the Sanderlings, most of these birds didn’t stay long. This is typical summer shorebird behavior at Montrose. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
July 24, 2022
July isn’t the most notable month for rarities at Montrose, but this July is proving to be the exception to that rule. On July 18 I found an adult male Yellow-rumped Warbler in full breeding plumage. I can’t think of a month less likely for Yellow-rumpeds in Chicago than July. Yellow-rumped Warblers nest in the northern United States and throughout Canada and that’s where they should be in July. Talk about an anomaly.
Even more anomalous than a July Yellow-rumped Warbler is a July Townsend’s Solitaire. On July 18 Mark Kolasa found one at Montrose. Townsend’s Solitaires are birds of the western United States and Canada and shouldn’t be anywhere near Illinois or the Midwest in July, though they are rare but regular visitors to our state in winter. This bird was seriously misoriented, but remember, the misoriented birds make birding magical.
We’re seeing the expected mid summer southbound migrant shorebirds like Least Sandpipers and Willets, but a White-rumped Sandpiper on July 3 was a surprise. Which way was this bird going? White-rumpeds are late spring migrants; we often see a few well into June but July birds are harder to interpret. I suspect this bird is a very tardy northbound migrant since we were seeing White-rumpeds in mid and late June, and we usually don’t get southbound birds until late August at the earliest.
Even more inexplicable was a Hermit Thrush near the Marovitz Golf Course. Hermit Thrushes are early spring and later fall migrants in northern Illinois. Most spring birds have moved on by early May and the first fall birds don’t start appearing before late September. In other words, Hermit Thrushes shouldn’t be in Chicago in July. Obviously this bird is confused.
July 3, 2022