With morning temps in the teens and a wind chill even colder, today felt more like January than early March. I ended up with 23 species in about an hour and half of birding, highlighted by the continuing blue morph Snow Goose and White-winged Scoter, and a bonus adult Thayer’s Gull in the harbor. There were also good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers in the harbor and in the lake just outside of the harbor mouth. I did not see the female Long-tailed Duck, which didn’t appear to be doing well when last seen. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Long-tailed Duck (click to see the larger version)
A tame female Long-tailed Duck was the birding highlight at Montrose this morning, March 6. Montrose regular Dave Antieau found her in the southeast corner of Montrose Harbor, close to the harbor wall. Long-tailed Ducks are uncommon but regular visitors to Montrose, so this sighting isn’t that unusual. What is unusual is how close to land the bird was – Long-tailed Ducks are typically found offshore on Lake Michigan. Whenever I see them close to shore, like this bird, I assume they are sick or injured. Call it a prejudice of mine.
I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, February 27. I haven’t been birding Montrose much this winter, but I had the day off, so I thought I’d take advantage of it. I ended up with 27 species, highlighted by 2 northbound White-winged Scoters and a drake Long-tailed Duck, both seen from the end of the fishing pier as part of a brief lakewatch. I spent most of my time checking the lake and harbor, so my landbird total isn’t that impressive, but I did see a couple Rusty Blackbirds near the Magic Hedge and an Eastern Meadowlark in the native planting area. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Who knew the human hand could double as a feeding platform for birds? I wanted to see if I could entice the resident Black-capped Chickadees at Montrose to take food from my hand (and video the experience at the same time). I’ve seen people hand feeding chickadees at Montrose, so I knew the birds were accustomed to this practice. I went over there one recent morning and when I found the chickadees I crumbled up a granola bar, put it in my left hand, and filmed the encounter with my phone camera in my right hand. After a few seconds and a little pishing the birds started coming in and taking the food. It’s amazing how tame wildlife can be. Video of the encounter below.
Northern Harrier (click to see the larger version)
I spent about an hour and a half at Montrose this morning, December 21. It certainly looked and felt like winter, with a thin layer of ice on Lake Michigan all the way to the horizon. As expected for this time of year, diversity was low. I ended up with 25 species, highlighted by a nice adult male Northern Harrier, the continuing female Rusty Blackbird, and hundreds of Common Mergansers. When I think of an emblematic Lake Michigan winter bird, I think of the Common Merganser, a hardy duck that can survive our brutal winters with just a little open water to find fish to eat. Link to my eBird checklist below.
Savannah Sparrow (click to see the larger version)
I took advantage of the break in the snowstorm to get some birding in this morning, December 11. I don’t expect to see much at this time of the year, but I did have a few surprises, highlighted by a late Savannah Sparrow near the mouth of the harbor. I also had an immature Northern Harrier in the Dunes, 15 Redheads, 2 American Pipits that probably wish they had flown south, and a Rusty Blackbird. Several American Pipits have been holding on in the native planting area for a few weeks. Link to my eBird checklist below.