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It’s (Mostly) About Montrose

Welcome to The Montrose Birding Blog, a WordPress website about birding Montrose Point in Chicago. I created this blog to report bird and nature sightings from Montrose and to serve as a guide to birding Montrose. Unless stated otherwise, all images and content were created by and are the property of Robert D. Hughes; any unauthorized use is prohibited..

Questions or comments? Contact the website administrator, Robert D. Hughes.

About Me

Robert D. Hughes

I’ve been birding since 1978 and much of that time has been spent at Montrose. I’ve never lived far from Montrose so it’s always been easy for me to bird there before or after school or work.

I was born, raised, and currently live in Chicago. My professional background is in webmastering, front-end Web development, and content management. When I’m not working I apply my passion for communications to promoting the Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary through the Birding Montrose Point website, social media, and this blog. You could say I’m a Web guy at heart.

Robert D. Hughes, Administrator
November 2022

Need a Birding Guide?

I offer guided birding services for Montrose Point as well as other locations in the Chicago area. What are you interested in seeing? Spring warblers? Specialty birds like Henslow’s Sparrow? I love finding and showing birds to people. Contact me for more information. I look forward to hearing from you!

I designed and developed this site and produce most of the content for it and its sister birding website, The Orniphile. I also pay for hosting and deal with the many challenges associated with running large, complex websites. I thoroughly enjoy writing about birds and telling the story of Montrose Point, one of the most popular and renowned bird and nature sanctuaries in the United States. Empowering people with the information they can use to make informed decisions about birding Montrose is a passion of mine. With that in mind, I’m asking for contributions to help offset the management costs.

I use PayPal for donations. It’s safe, secure, and easy to use. To make a contribution, click the Donate button below and follow the instructions. Thanks!

What’s New

March is here and March is the month for waterfowl. Most of the regularly occurring migrant ducks found in Illinois can be seen at Montrose during the month. The best place to look for them is from the fishing pier and southeast part of the Point. Smaller numbers of ducks can also be seen in the harbor and on the Golf Course Pond.

Header Photo: White-winged Scoters from Montrose Harbor

No More Owl Photos

I’ve decided not to post any more owl photos online, including this blog, social media, and eBird. Doing so only encourages others to photograph and possibly disturb them, and maybe even tip people off about their location. I made this decision after watching how photographers behaved towards the Long-eared Owls that wintered at Montrose in 2022/2023. Once word of these birds got out, photographers set up just feet from where the Long-eareds were roosting. This caused the owls to move to another, more secluded area or leave altogether. I admit that I’ve been part of the problem by posting my owl photos on the internet, but I won’t do it anymore. We’re not just birders and photographers. We’re also conservationists, and a decent consideration of the welfare of these birds should take precedence over the attention we get from posting our photos on Facebook and other platforms. The internet is full of owl photos. It doesn’t need more.

Ross’s Gull – MEGA Rarity (but not at Montrose)

Ross's Gull

Ross’s Gull at Chicago’s Park 566 (click to see the larger version)

Few birds spark feelings of ecstacy the way Ross’s Gull does, so when one showed up at Park 566 on the south side of Chicago on March 11, 2023, it generated a lot of excitement in the birding community. Hordes of eager birders descended on Park 566 and Rainbow Beach to see what may be the rarity of the decade in Chicago. The Ross’s obliged and put on a show worthy of its status as one of the most sought after of North American birds. This is the fourth record of Ross’s Gull for Illinois, and the first record of an immature for the state. Many excellent photos are at the Park 566 eBird Hotspot.

Ross’s Gulls at Montrose Point

Montrose has two confirmed Ross’s Gull sightings, the first from November 1978 and the second from March 2011. The 1978 record is the same bird first seen at Gillson Park along Lake Michigan in Wilmette, Illinois. This individual made its way south to Chicago, where it was observed at North Avenue Beach and again at Montrose. The 2011 record is of a well-photographed adult sitting on the fishing pier.

Birding and Weather Forecast, March 15 – 18, 2023

Weather forecast screenshot

Weather forecast screenshot. From weather.com. (click to see the larger version)

We’ll get a shot of milder air and south winds starting March 15 and lasting a couple days. At this point, Thursday, March 16 looks like the better day for birding. We should see an influx of typical early spring migrants, including Eastern Phoebe, American Woodcock, and Rusty Blackbird. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for recent sightings.

Dabblers and Divers – March 2, 2023

American Wigeon

American Wigeon flying north past Montrose Point (click to see the larger version)

An impressive flight of dabbling and bay ducks took place on the morning of March 2. This flight included numbers of Northern Pintail, American Wigeon, Redheads, and Canvasbacks, the latter uncommon at Montrose. Most of these birds were flying north into a strong headwind. This seems counterintuitive but is typical behavior for migrating spring ducks along the western shore of Lake Michigan.

Glaucous Gull and Long-tailed Duck, February 10, 2023

Glaucous Gull

Glaucous Gull (click to see the larger version)

Now that February is here we’re starting to think about spring and migration, but it’s still winter and we’re still getting winter birds. I can’t think of two more wintry birds in Chicago than Glaucous Gull and Long-tailed Duck. Both were at Montrose on February 10. This is the first Glaucous Gull I’ve seen at Montrose all winter. Not to be outdone, a tame adult male Long-tailed Duck graced the inside of the fishing pier. The Glaucous Gull flew off shortly after I photographed it, but the Long-tailed was still there when I left. More photos are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.

eBird Checklist
February 10, 2023

Shelf Ice – Danger

People standing on the shelf ice at Montrose Beach

People standing on the shelf ice at Montrose Beach (click to see the larger version)

It’s mid winter and shelf ice has formed along the shoreline of Montrose Beach. This is typical. What you need to know is that walking on shelf ice is dangerous. The ice could collapse under your feet, taking you into the frigid water of Lake Michigan, where you’d have a hard time getting out. The two people in the photo walked onto the shelf ice at Montrose Beach on February 6, 2023. They were obviously unaware of the danger they were in.

If you visit Montrose this winter, stay off the shelf ice.