Howard Blum and Terry Walsh found a red morph Eastern Screech-Owl on August 8. Hard to believe but this is the first verified Eastern Screech-Owl record for Montrose Point. Montrose boasts a long list of birds, a list that includes first and second state records as well as many other rare and unexpected species. Eastern Screech-Owl is a common and widespread bird in Illinois, including the Chicago area, but for unknown reasons it went unrecorded at Montrose until Howard and Terry found the August 8 bird. The total number of birds seen at Montrose now stands at 350.
Woody Goss found a Gull-billed Tern on the protected beach late in the day on June 1. This is just the second record for Illinois and a first site record for Montrose. The bird flew off to the south after 30 minutes and has not been seen since. Gull-billed Terns are normally found on the Gulf and East coasts of the United States. They usually don’t stray far from the coast, though there are a number of extralimital records for the eastern United States. This amazing record is a reminder to keep checking the beach for unusual gulls, terns, and shorebirds.
To see the updated list of birds recorded at Montrose, refer to the Montrose List page on this blog.
A first cycle California Gull was at Montrose Beach on April 26 and 27. This is about the fifth California Gull record for Montrose. It’s almost warbler time and the last group of birds we’re thinking about is gulls, but we’ve been seeing large numbers of Herring Gulls along the lakefront, so something more unusual was bound to turn up. California Gulls can be tricky to identify, especially the messy immature birds, but the body size, head shape, and bill shape and pattern of this bird stood out among the numerous Herring amd Ring-billed Gulls.
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.
The highlight of an excellent day of overall birding at Montrose on September 17 was an unexpected Purple Sandpiper. The bird hung out on the fishing pier during the morning, happily feeding on some kind of insect, perhaps midges. This is the earliest Purple Sandpiper for Montrose I know of – all other records come from late October, November, and into December. Interestingly, the bird was in juvenal plumage, maybe the first record of a juvenile for Illinois. Dozens of people saw and photographed it. Link to my eBird checklist for the day below.
September 17, 2022
July isn’t the most notable month for rarities at Montrose, but this July is proving to be the exception to that rule. On July 18 I found an adult male Yellow-rumped Warbler in full breeding plumage. I can’t think of a month less likely for Yellow-rumpeds in Chicago than July. Yellow-rumped Warblers nest in the northern United States and throughout Canada and that’s where they should be in July. Talk about an anomaly.
Even more anomalous than a July Yellow-rumped Warbler is a July Townsend’s Solitaire. On July 18 Mark Kolasa found one at Montrose. Townsend’s Solitaires are birds of the western United States and Canada and shouldn’t be anywhere near Illinois or the Midwest in July, though they are rare but regular visitors to our state in winter. This bird was seriously misoriented, but remember, the misoriented birds make birding magical.