Category Archives: Summer Bird Reports

June 1 – August 31, inclusive

Montrose Is Open Again (sort of)

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.

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird in the catbird’s seat at Montrose Point (click to see the larger version)

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.

eBird Checklist
June 29, 2020

American Avocets, August 27, 2019

American Avocets

American Avocets (click to see the larger version)

This continues to be an excellent summer for American Avocets at Montrose. Four were feeding in the fluddle on the public beach on the afternoon of August 27. The shorebirds that use the beach don’t mind all the human activity, proving that if left alone and given some space wildlife and humans can coexist peacefully.

Olive-sided Flycatcher, August 14, 2019

Olive-sided Flycatcher

Olive-sided Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)

Shorebirds have been moving south for over a month in Chicago but the first passerine (songbird) migrants are just starting to appear. This Olive-sided Flycatcher was taking a break at Montrose on August 14. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

The travels of birds are extraordinary. Our Olive-sided Flycather could have come anywhere from Northern Wisconsin to Alaska and will spend the winter in Central or South America. And it will keep making this journey for as long as it’s alive. Not bad for a creature that weighs a little more than an ounce.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58982673

Piping Plover Update (good news, mostly)

Piping Plover

Rose, the mama Piping Plover (click to see the larger version)

Our Piping Plovers are now the proud parents of 2 chicks. A third chick hatched but died recently for unknown reasons. Monty, the papa, is doing an outstanding job of defending his kids from gulls and other shorebirds. Also, Rose, the mother, disappeared for a few days but returned on July 29. With a little luck, the chicks will survive, grow up, and fly away in a few weeks.

American Avocet, July 19, 2019

American Avocet, Piping Plover, and Semipalmated Plover

American Avocet, Piping Plover, and Semipalmated Plover (click to see the larger version)

Another hot, steamy summer day and another American Avocet at Montrose Beach. This one, an adult male, was working the public beach and protected area early on the morning of July 19. Also note the photobombing Semipalmated Plover and Piping Plover in the lower left corner of the photo. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58290370

American Avocets, July 17, 2019

American Avocets

American Avocets (click to see the larger version)

Shorebird season is in full swing along the Chicago lakefront. Five American Avocets put in an appearance at Montrose Beach on the morning of July 17. They didn’t stay long but this is the time of the year when Montrose and other Illinois lakefront beaches should be checked regularly for shorebirds. Plus, something even more exciting could show up — a hurricane waif, Brown Booby, Limpkin, or similarly fantastic bird (extralimital Brown Boobies and Limpkins have been showing up in the eastern US). Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.

eBird Checklist
https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S58246132