We usually get a nice spillover of migrants into early June, but this year activity has dropped sharply since the peak day on May 19. Migrants are in a hurry to get to their breeding grounds, so they probably took advantage of the favorable weather we’ve been experiencing and continued moving north without stopping. We should get one last push of flycatchers, cuckoos, Red-eyed Vireos, and later warblers sometime in the next week. Spring shorebird migration also continues into June, and a rare gull or tern could show up, so don’t forget to check the beach.
Saturday, May 13 qualified as a fallout given the volume of warblers, sparrows, flycatchers, and other passerine migrants present. Over 140 species were reported to eBird by all observers. The rain, north winds, and temperatures in the 50s didn’t slow down the birds or the birders. My highlights include
Common Tern (14)
Common Loon (getting late)
Clay-colored Sparrow (2)
Orchard Oriole (4)
Scarlet Tanager (4)
We’re at the peak of spring migration; birding will be productive for the next 2 to 3 weeks. This is the time to call in sick or take those personal days off.
It’s late August and Elderberry fruit are ripening. A variety of birds eat the juicy berries, including several warblers, vireos, thrushes, and House Finches. To find the berries and the birds, look for clusters of small, purplish fruit on shrub-like plants. The photo accompanying this post shows what the berries look like. The stand of Elderberry at the edge of the woods at the far southeast corner of the Point has been excellent for birds this August.
The dogwood just north of the north end of the Magic Hedge has been a hotspot for a variety of passerines this early fall. Birds I’ve seen feasting on its fruit include Gray Catbird, Swainson’s Thrush, Red-eyed Vireo, and Eastern Kingbird. As of early September, the shrub has abundant berries, so it should be productive for a few weeks. Look for the clusters of pea-sized white berries to find it (as far as I know, this is the only dogwood in the sanctuary). The best approach for birding it is to stand quietly 15 to 20 feet in front of it. Patience and determination are needed to pick birds out in the thick foliage.
I had a couple of nice surprises on June 2. We’ve been seeing and hearing a Blue-headed Vireo for the last few days, and today I found it in the grove at the east end of the Point. Needless to say, it’s getting late for Blue-headed Vireo in northern Illinois – they should be gone by June and on their breeding grounds north of us.
An immature Lesser Black-backed Gull has been hanging around Montrose Beach. Today I saw it at the east end of the protected beach among the loafing Ring-billed Gulls and Caspian Terns. Lesser Black-backed Gulls are rare at Montrose in the summer. The protected beach is a haven for gulls, terns, and shorebirds to relax and not have to worry about people disturbing them.
There’s always something to look at and look forward to at Montrose, even with migration winding down. More photos of the Lesser Black-backed Gull and one of the Blue-headed Vireo are at my eBird checklist for the morning, URL below.
June 2, 2021
We were all expecting a great day on April 27, but I don’t think anyone knew just how good it would be. It turned out to be one of the best April days at Montrose any of us could remember. According to eBird, about 120 species were reported by all observers, with multiple rarities and first of season sightings. I ended up with 73 species in about 2.5 hours. My highlights include
Eastern Kingbird (early)
Yellow-throated Vireo (early)
All 6 regularly occurring swallows
Gray Catbird (early)
Swainson’s Thrush (early)
Cerulean Warbler (very rare, less than annual)
Yellow-throated Warbler (very rare, less than annual)
Pine Warbler (2, uncommon)
Summer Tanager (a nice adult male, uncommon at Montrose)
Rose-breasted Grosbeak (early)
Any day with Cerulean and Yellow-throated Warblers and Summer Tanager is hard to beat. I don’t think I’ve had this trio at Montrose before either. The number of early passerines felt like early or mid-May rather than late April. It’s amazing and predictable what southwest winds do for bird migration in the spring. Link to my eBird checklist below.
April 27, 2021