Montrose is a popular location for runs, charity walks, and other events. These are all for worthwhile causes but they complicate access and parking. This is the one event I know of so far. If you know of others, please let me know and I’ll update this post.
Event: AFSP Chicagoland Walk – Together to Fight Suicide Date: Saturday, October 2, 2021 Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. Location: Montrose Harbor
The best way to deal with these events is to arrive early at Montrose. You may also get caught in traffic as you leave, so be prepared to wait.
Aerial view of Montrose Point. Photo courtesy of Justine Neslund. (click to see the larger version)
Have you ever wondered how Montrose Point looks to migrating birds? We know birds fly over Montrose, sometimes at great height, but it’s hard to envision how they perceive the place. Justine Neslund snapped this pic while flying out of Chicago in early September 2021. Montrose Point can clearly be seen in the photo. The landmarks we’re familiar with, including the beach, fishing pier, and harbor are obvious. This is how a high-flying migrant like an Osprey sees Montrose during the day. What’s striking is how much the Point protrudes into Lake Michigan, which is one reason why migrating birds are drawn to it.
BirdCast, the online migration tool, is showing a big push of birds on the night of September 14 and 15. This coincides with a cold front passage late in the day on September 14. There should be a lot of bird activity at Montrose on September 15, so if you can get there by all means do. I’ve included a link to the BirdCast main page below. BirdCast is a free and easy to use resource.
Red-eyed Vireo at the water feature. Photo courtesy of Terry Walsh. (click to see the larger version)
The only reliable, easy to access source of fresh water for birds at the sanctuary is the small ground fountain we call the water feature. This makes it vitally important to migrants, and it’s been a magnet for warblers and other songbirds this fall. These birds are attracted to the water but find cover in the small shrub and thick vegetation inside the water feature enclosure. The water feature is about 50 yards east southeast of the Magic Hedge and runs during the warmer months of the year. The best way to bird it is to stand quietly on the dirt path that surrounds the enclosure and look for birds moving around inside.
Olive-sided Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)
I spent about three hours birding Montrose on September 7 and it was time well spent. I tallied 51 species for my effort and saw a number of personal first of season birds. According to eBird, almost 80 species were recorded by all observers. Swainson’s Thrushes have arrived and they seemed to be everywhere. The dogwood north of the Magic Hedge and the cherry trees in the meadow were flush with them. My highlights include
Dogwood at The Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary (click to see the larger version)
The dogwood just north of the north end of the Magic Hedge has been a hotspot for a variety of passerines this early fall. Birds I’ve seen feasting on its fruit include Gray Catbird, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, and Eastern Kingbird. As of early September, the shrub has abundant berries, so it should be productive for a few weeks. Look for the clusters of pea-sized white berries to find it (as far as I know, this is the only dogwood in the sanctuary). The best approach for birding it is to stand quietly 15 to 20 feet in front of it. Patience and determination are needed to pick birds out in the thick foliage.