What’s more interesting in this photo? The male Bobolink feeding near the top of the tree or the midges buzzing around him?
If you were at Montrose in late April or early May 2022, you couldn’t help but notice the swarms of midges (midges are insects related to mosquitoes). If you happened to walk through a cloud of them, a few may have ended up in your eyes or mouth. The midges may have been annoying to us but the birds were loving them. Seeing White-throated and Swamp Sparrows feasting on these tiny insects in the tree tops was odd, something you’d expect from warblers, but they were taking advantage of an abundant food source, like any smart bird would.
Photo: Male Bobolink from Montrose Point in Chicago, May 7, 2022
Adult male Baltimore Oriole (click to see the larger version)
We’re about a month from peak landbird migration but we’ve been getting a steady trickle of Empidonax flycatchers, cuckoos, Baltimore Orioles, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, and a few warblers, all expected late summer/early fall migrants. On the flip side, the Tree, Bank, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows that were such a visual and noisy presence in the Dunes have moved on. We’re still seeing Barn Swallows and Purple Martins, but the martins are getting restless and will be gone in a few weeks. Link to my eBird checklist for August 16 below.
Brewer’s Blackbird (click to see the larger version)
It’s hard to believe Brewer’s Blackbird is rare anywhere in Illinois but they are at Montrose Point in Chicago. They nest to the north of us in Illinois, Wisconsin, and Michigan, but for whatever reason, they largely avoid the Chicago lakefront. So seeing one at Montrose on October 10 was exciting. The bird, a female, was in the Dunes for a few minutes before flying south and disappearing. More photos of the Brewer’s are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
Today was the best day of the fall for me. I ended up with 53 species in about 3 hours of birding, with good numbers of passerines, especially warblers and Catharus thrushes. Highlights include Connecticut and 2 Golden-winged Warblers (10 warbler species total), Bobolink, Dickcissel, the continuing American Avocet, and a surprise Turkey Vulture. TVs aren’t rare at Montrose but we don’t see a lot of them. Shorebirds were skimpy, mainly because the fluddle has dried up. I also had impressive numbers of aerial insectivores, mostly Chimney Swifts and Barn Swallows, a few bonus Cliff Swallows, and what seemed like thousands of buzzing dragonflies. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
Yellow-headed Blackbird (click to see the larger version)
The hit parade of spring migration wonderfulness continued today, May 5 at Montrose. I ended up with 101 species in 6 hours of birding, only the fifth time I’ve topped 100 species in a day at Montrose. Passerines were abundant, with White-crowned, White-throated, and Swamp Sparrows and Yellow-rumped and Palm Warblers leading the way. There were also good numbers of Gray Catbirds and Swainson’s Thrushes. Interestingly, many of these birds were feeding in the tops of trees that were just leafing out, apparently on newly emerged midges. Shorebird variety, however, was low, which was surprising given the complete lack of dogs on the beach (thanks to CPD security) and the presence of a large fluddle on the public beach. The large number of people probably didn’t help (there were 2 major events at Montrose today). My highlights include
White-eyed Vireo – 1, feeding in the top of trees, a common theme today
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
Golden-crowned Kinglet – 1, getting late
20 species of warbler, the best being Prothonotary and Golden-winged. Only Yellow-rumped, Palm, Northern Waterthrush, and Ovenbird were common however
Clay-colored Sparrow – 2
Lark Sparrow – 1
Yellow-breasted Chat – 1
Yellow-headed Blackbird – 1
Orchard Oriole – 2
I took today off in anticipation of what I expected to be a great day of birding at Montrose Point in Chicago. It was fantastic, exceeding even my own optimistic expectations. The southwest winds brought in a ton of migrants – I’ve lost track of all the FOS’s I snatched up today. A review of eBird reports from Montrose shows about 125 species reported from about 20 submissions. This will probably go down as one of the best days this spring. My highlights include
Baird’s Sandpiper – Probably the same bird from yesterday. A very good spring bird for us.
Willet – 2
Franklin’s Gull – Older immature bird on the beach
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
All Catharus thrushes plus Wood Thrush. Excellent numbers of Swainson’s Thrushes.
19 species of warblers highlighted by Pine, Hooded, Blackpoll, Chestnut-sided, and Blackburnian
Grasshopper Sparrow – 1
Le Conte’s Sparrow – 1
Dickcissel – 1
Bobolink – 1
Orchard Oriole – 1
Rusty Blackbird – 1
I ended up with 102 species for the day, only the fourth time I’ve cracked the century mark at Montrose in the 30+ years of been birding the place.