What nature giveth, nature also taketh away. Seeing a dead bird is always sad. Seeing a dead bird as beautiful as a male Long-tailed Duck is poignant. This deceased Long-tailed Duck was on Montrose Beach on April 3. The bird was alive (but apparently not well) the day before but for unknown reasons didn’t survive. The specimen will go to the Field Museum where it will be available to scientists and others to study. Long-tailed Ducks are regular visitors to Lake Michigan during the colder months of the year.
Today was a good day to look at Lake Michigan – overcast skies, a flat surface, and excellent visibility most of the way to the horizon, perfect conditions for looking for birds on the water. While scanning the lake I found several groups of White-winged Scoters, a female Black Scoter, and 4 Long-tailed Ducks. The White-winged Scoters (~20) were scattered in small flocks 1/5 to 1/4 mile offshore from the fishing pier. With one of these flocks was a female Black Scoter, a good bird for Montrose in the spring. Finally, I saw a group of Long-tailed Ducks flying south far offshore. These birds landed eventually but disappeared because of distance. Also of note were about a dozen Double-crested Cormorants on the water crib a couple of miles offshore from Montrose, the beginnings of the nesting colony. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
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 of Rusty Blackbirds near the Magic Hedge and an Eastern Meadowlark in the native planting area. Link to my eBird checklist below.
I birded Montrose for about an hour this morning, December 6. Most of that hour was spent at the end of the fishing pier looking at Lake Michigan. Except for Red-breasted Mergansers not much was moving, though I did have 3 northbound White-winged Scoters. There wasn’t much on the lake either; I guess most of the expected winter waterfowl are still to the north of us and will come down with colder weather.
When I was done looking at Lake Michigan I walked over to the harbor to look for the Long-tailed Duck, and after a little searching found it in the channel between the docks at the east end of the harbor, pretty much where it’s been since it first showed up.
I had a drake Long-tailed Duck at the mouth of Montrose Harbor this morning, December 10. This looks like the same bird that was at Loyola recently. My other good bird for the morning was a flyover Common (I assume) Redpoll while looking at the Long-tailed Duck. Also, 2 lingering Ruddy Ducks and all 3 mergansers. Video of the Long-tailed below.