Colorado State University and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have an excellent tool for visualizing and forecasting bird migration called BirdCast. With BirdCast, you can see where migration is happening – lighter colors on the maps indicate stronger movements of birds. In the screenshot, note the vivid yellow and white in the southeastern United States on the night of April 30, 2022. This is where migration will be heavy for that date. Also note that in the Chicago area the colors are more subdued, indicating a less intense movement of birds. Follow the URL to start using it – BirdCast
The forecast for the week of April 27 to May 4 does not look propitious for a strong movement of birds. Winds will be from the east or north most of that time; these are not favorable conditions for migration, particularly insect eating songbirds like warblers. We will get a brief shot of south winds Saturday and Sunday nights, so Sunday and Monday may be better. Hopefully this will change for the Spring Bird Count on May 7.
The protected beach and most of the Dunes are now cordoned off and inaccessible to the public to protect the nesting Piping Plovers. Part of the Dunes at the south end is still open as of April 26 but this could change, depending on where Monty and Rose decide to nest. You can still view the protected beach on the east side from the fishing pier and on the west side from the public beach. Though inconvenient to birders, these changes will protect not only the Piping Plovers but also the fragile habitat in the Dunes. Another benefit is that gulls, terns, and shorebirds will gather on the protected beach now that it’s actually protected.
Everyone knows about the Magic Hedge and Dunes but there are other, less visited areas at Montrose that also offer good birding. These locations are within easy walking distance of the Hedge (under one mile away) and are worth checking.
The large boatyard north of the harbor has some habitat on its periphery, especially on the west and southeast sides. The trees, shrubs, and grass can be excellent for warblers, sparrows, thrushes, and other passerines during spring and fall migration. You can walk around the entire boatyard but be alert for vehicular traffic near the entrance on the south side.
Golf Course Pond
The small pond at the north end of the Marovitz Golf Course is good for Black-crowned Night-Herons in summer and early fall. In past years, Yellow-crowned Night-Herons have also turned up. The pond is fenced and viewing isn’t easy but there is an opening in the vegetation along the east side where you can scan most of it. Also, the small woodlot at the southeast corner of the pond can be excellent for passerines during migration.
Marovitz Golf Course (northwest side)
If you bird the Golf Course Pond you should also check the area around the northwest side of the golf course. The habitat is diverse and includes tall trees, underbrush, and extensive weedy ground cover, all excellent for migrant songbirds. Sparrows are especially fond of the ground cover. You can walk all the way south to the Peace Garden at West Buena Avenue, which forms the southern boundary of the Montrose Point birding area.
The no parking signs along West Montrose Drive say that parking on the south and east sides of the street is prohibited until April 27, and parking along the north and west sides of the street is prohibited until May 7. The parking restrictions are due to a curb repair project. This Google Map shows the road system in and around Montrose Point.
American Bitterns can show up in strange places during migration. They prefer marshes and other wetlands but when those habitats aren’t available they have to settle for whatever they can find. I once saw one standing on top of a picnic table at the end of Navy Pier in Chicago, trying hard to be inconspicuous. The American Bittern in this photo was at the small pond in the Marovitz Golf Course at Montrose on April 13. The bird wasn’t hard to pick out but it must have felt secure blending in with the rocks and vegetation at that fountain.