A list of the next ten or twenty new species for Montrose might include a buteo like a Broad-winged Hawk but probably not Ferruginous Hawk. On November 6 the improbable happened and a juvenile dark morph Ferruginous Hawk flew over Montrose Point. Dark morph buteos can be tricky to identify but diagnostic photos taken by an attentive birder confirmed the identification. The bird drifted down the beach and off to the west before disappearing, though it was seen and photographed the next day at the Shedd Aquarium in Chicago. Ferruginous Hawk is a very rare visitor to Illinois from the western United States and southwestern Canada. This is the 351st species for Montrose, and yet we still don’t have a verified Broad-winged Hawk.
October is an excellent month for rarities in Illinois. In keeping with this historical tendency, a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was discovered at Montrose on October 14 and refound on October 15. The bird moved around quite a bit and proved challenging to pin down, but spent enough time in the Dunes to delight the dozens of people who came to look for it. This sighting represents about the fifth Scissor-tailed Flycatcher record for Montrose. Also of note is that Montrose has 15 flycatcher species to its credit, maybe the highest total for any location in Illinois.
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.