Great Crested Flycatcher (click to see the larger version)
Migration doesn’t come to a screeching halt when May ends. We always get some spillover into early June, and this June 1 proved the point. Over 70 species were reported to eBird by all observers, and I ended up with 60 species in about 2.5 hours of effort. My migrant highlights include
All of the above birds are bona fide migrants that don’t breed at Montrose. I also had Great Crested and Willow Flycatchers and Eastern Wood-Pewees. These birds have bred at Montrose or nearby but could just as well be migrants. The point is you should keep checking Montrose into early June. The pace has slowed down from mid May but we’re still seeing a variety of shorebirds, warblers, flycatchers, and other birds. Why not squeeze every last drop out of migration while it lasts?
A male Red-winged Blackbird surprised me on February 15. It seems a little early for them, but Red-wingeds didn’t (and usually don’t) winter at Montrose, so this bird has to be a migrant. Along with Red-wings, other early spring passerine migrants we should start seeing in the next couple weeks include Horned Larks, Song Sparrows, and Eastern Meadowlarks. Waterfowl diversity will also pick up during this period. Check weather reports for warm fronts and south winds as these are the conditions that bring in spring migrants.
As expected, the strong south winds brought a lot of migrants to Montrose Point on March 30. I ended up with 41 species in a little over two hours of effort, and 57 species were reported on eBird by all observers. Most impressive were the numbers of Northern Flickers coming in off Lake Michigan early in the morning. These birds were migrating north over the lake at night, and when the sun rose they started to head inland towards land and safety. No passerine or other landbird worth its life wants to get caught over Lake Michigan when the sun comes up. The local Peregrine Falcons and Herring Gulls relish hunting these tardy migrants as they make their way to shore. I also had multiple first of spring sightings, including Caspian Tern, Belted Kingfisher, Hermit Thrush, and Lapland Longspur. Link to my eBird checklist for the morning below.
Turkey Vulture. Photo courtesy of Tamima Itani. (click to see the larger version)
It’s axiomatic among Chicago lakefront birders that southwest winds in spring produce lots of migrants. Today, March 8, reaffirmed that maxim. I ended up with 42 species in a couple of hours of birding, including a number of new birds for the year. Large numbers of blackbirds and Canada Geese were moving on the south winds, and we had a number of unusual sightings. Best for the morning were