A list of the next ten or twenty new species for Montrose might include a buteo like a Broad-winged Hawk but probably not Ferruginous Hawk. On November 6 the improbable happened and a juvenile dark morph Ferruginous Hawk flew over Montrose Point. Dark morph buteos can be tricky to identify but diagnostic photos taken by an attentive birder confirmed the identification. The bird drifted down the beach and off to the west before disappearing, though it was seen and photographed the next day at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Ferruginous Hawk is a very rare visitor to Illinois from the western United States and southwestern Canada. This is the 351st species for Montrose, and yet we still don’t have a verified Broad-winged Hawk.
May 6 lived up to the billing and turned out to be the best day of the spring so far. The persistent south winds brought in a lot of migrants, including many first of seasons. About 130 species were reported to eBird by all observers, which is about as good as we do. Sparrows were well represented, with many White-throated and White-crowned. Warbler variety was low, but it’s still early. My highlights for the morning include
Golden-crowned Kinglet (getting late)
Clay-colored Sparrow (3)
Dark-eyed Junco (getting late)
Bobolink (3, all males)
Black-throated Blue Warbler
We’re close to the peak of spring migration. The next couple weeks should see an increase in warbler, flycatcher, and Catharus thrush numbers. Keep checking weather forecasts for warm fronts, and keep checking the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for the latest sightings.
Two Rough-legged Hawks flew over Montrose on November 9. What’s interesting is that conditions weren’t favorable for hawk migration – overcast skies, light rain, and breezy south winds. Montrose is known for many things birdwise but we don’t do well with migrating buteos. Reasons for this discrepancy could be a lack of birders looking up for hawks and our proximity to Lake Michigan, which may scare away migrating buteos. Rough-legged Hawks aren’t intimidated by large bodies of water, which, oddly, may be the reason why we see more of them in active migration than other buteos, though they’re still rare.
April 11 lived up to the billing and turned out to be an exceptional day for migrants, with about 80 species reported to eBird. The south winds overnight brought in a lot of birds, as south winds usually do in spring. Northern Flickers and Hermit Thrushes were conspicuous by their numbers. Bird of the day goes to the nearly full breeding plumaged Eared Grebe on Lake Michigan near the base of the fishing pier. The bird was close to shore and conveniently associating with a group of Horned Grebes for comparison. Eared Grebes are rare and not annual at Montrose. Other goodies include Merlin, Short-eared Owl, Eurasian Collared-Dove, and the late continuing male Long-tailed Duck along the fishing pier. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
April 11, 2022
A Black Vulture was seen at Montrose on Saturday, November 13. The bird worked its way up the lakefront from the Jarvis Sanctuary at Addison, stopping briefly near the harbor before ending up at Foster Avenue. On Sunday, November 14, it visited the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary, roosting obligingly on a light pole for the many birders who came to look for it. This is just the second Black Vulture record for Montrose.
Black Vultures are common throughout the southern United States and range south into Central and South America. The closest they normally come to Chicago is west central Indiana, though they frequently occur outside of their regular range as vagrants, sometimes dramatically so.
Postscript: The bird was captured by wildlife rehabbers on November 14 because it wasn’t healthy.
Previous Montrose Black Vulture Records
- April 9, 2019
A strong cold front will move through Chicago over the weekend of November 12 – 14. Daily high temperatures will be in the low 40s and winds will be westerly, at least for Saturday and Sunday, and in the 10 to 15 mile per hour range. This is an excellent setup for a late fall push of birds. These conditions often produce Short-eared Owls and Franklin’s Gulls, and we could see a few hawks migrating down Lake Michigan, especially Northern Harriers. Sandhill Cranes also move on these conditions, though we rarely see large numbers of them at Montrose. There’s always the possibility of something extraordinary showing up – it is November after all.