Today was the kind of day I could have stayed out all morning and then some, it was that good. All this morning’s bird activity confirmed that cold fronts and west winds are fantastic bird producers along the west side of Lake Michigan in fall. I ended up with 54 species in about 2 hours of early morning birding at Montrose, highlights including Merlin, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Wilson’s Snipe, 2 Pine Warblers, Northern Parula, 12 Nelson’s Sparrows, 3 Marsh Wrens, Bobolinks, and a Purple Finch. No pics today – I was too busy looking. Link to my eBird checklist below.
There were good numbers of birds at Montrose on this cold and gray October morning, especially White-throated Sparrows and kinglets. My highlights include American Pipit, Purple Finch, a Northern Harrier winging south out over Lake Michigan, and a Sharp-shinned Hawk that almost became breakfast for a Cooper’s Hawk. Sharp-shinned Hawks, or Sharpies as they are known in the birding community, are fairly unusual at Montrose. The lowlight was an unidentified sparrow that came in off the lake around dawn and was set upon by a gang of Ring-billed Gulls. This gruesome spectacle occurs fairly regularly in the fall at Montrose as passerines get caught out over Lake Michigan during migration after the sun rises. They then have to run a veritable gauntlet of hungry gulls to make it to shore and safety.
I’ve included a photo of one of the water cribs that lie a couple of miles offshore from Chicago. These cribs pump water from Lake Michigan to filtration plants near Navy Pier and on the south side of the city. The filtration plants purify the water and then deliver it via a system of pipes to the residents and businesses of Chicago, as well as some of the nearby suburbs. One time I was at Montrose and I got into a conversation with an out-of-towner about the crib. This fellow remarked that the crib reminded him of Alcatraz. Perhaps he was speaking from personal experience.