A strong cold front will pass through northern Illinois late in the day on October 12. The backside winds will be from the west on October 13 and 14. These conditions are favorable for several birds at Montrose, including Franklin’s Gulls, Short-eared Owls, and possibly American Avocets and Smith’s Longspurs. We should also see an influx of typical mid October passerines.
Karen Mansfield and I found a male Smith’s Longspur in the dunes this morning. The bird was initially in the open sandy and grassy area just south of the cottonwoods, but after a few minutes it flew north and landed in the dunes north of the cottonwoods. We didn’t follow the bird after the initial observation but others reported that this and a second Smith’s eventually flew off to the west and were not seen again. This is only the second Smith’s Longspur I’ve seen at Montrose in over 30 years of birding there.
In addition to the Smith’s, a Grasshopper Sparrow was in roughly the same area of the dunes. I also had a small loon flying north that was almost certainly a breeding plumaged Red-throated. Otherwise we saw nothing else of note and the slow spring migration continues, though I’m not going to complain too much.