The forecast for May 19 and May 20 looks good for a push of birds, with warmer temps and sustained southwest winds, ideal spring migration conditions. We’re a little past the peak of migration but we should see an influx of flycatchers, vireos, cuckoos, and “later” warblers like Connecticut and Mourning. As always, check the Montrose Point eBird Hotspot for the latest sightings.
Monty died unexpectedly on May 13, 2022, thus ending the saga of Chicago’s first nesting Piping Plovers in over 50 years. The Dunes habitat is protected and intact, so perhaps another pair of Piping Plovers will find their way to Montrose and try to nest.
Continuing the migration splendor for the week, Thursday, May 12 was the best warbler day of the spring at Montrose. I ended up with 26 species, which is about as good as we do. If you were at Montrose on that day you couldn’t help but be impressed with the volume and variety of warblers. My best finds include
Black-throated Blue Warbler
Golden-winged Warbler (3)
Northern Parula (3)
Of the regularly occurring warblers, Worm-eating is the rarest and least expected. In addition, the large numbers of Magnolia, Chestnut-sided, and Blackburnian were a joy to look at. We wait all year for a handful of days with color like this. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
May 12, 2022
You know you’re doing well when you see flocks of Eastern Kingbirds and Gray Catbirds feeding in the tops of trees. That’s what it was like at Montrose on May 9. I ended up with 86 species and the eBird total for all observers is over 120. We saw a big influx of migrant passerines, especially flycatchers, Indigo Buntings, Rose-breasted Grosbeaks, and Gray Catbirds. Many of these birds were feasting on midges. The south winds we’re getting are bringing in a lot of birds, and the good news is that these conditions will continue for the rest of the week. The photo I’ve included shows Eastern Kingbirds, Gray Catbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Baltimore Orioles, and a Rose-breasted Grosbeak. You can also see a ball of midges in the upper left corner of the pic.
The forecast for May 9 to May 14 looks good for a big movement of birds. We should see an influx of warblers, flycatchers, Catharus thrushes, and other migrants. Most of the week will see sustained south winds and temperatures in the 70s and 80s. This might turn out to be one of the best birding weeks of the year. If you can get out for a few hours on any day during the week, by all means do.
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