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Labor Day at Montrose Point and Skokie Lagoons

Updated: Sep 9, 2020

September 7, 2020

This morning I started with some early birding at Montrose Point. The birding was slow, but a beautiful magnolia warbler served as consolation for the lack of other species. Today is Labor Day, and I would like to thank the staff at the Chicago Parks District and all of the NGO volunteers who work to make Montrose a great place for birds. Rehabilitating land is essential to bird conservation, and it is important to celebrate the people who do so.

The image shows a grassy field.
Montrose Point: Important Bird Area!

Montrose Point is important because it is a major landing site of birds migrating up and down Lake Michigan. Birds flying over a long stretch of water are eager to land before and after flight, to rest before and after the long journey over water, and the green Montrose Point, jutting out into the lake is an ideal spot for such a rest. The vegetation is like a five star hotel for the birds and like Disneyland for bird watchers

After Montrose, I went to the Skokie Lagoons. Skokie is a Northwest suburb of Chicago. Skokie Lagoons are not actually located in the Chicago suburb of Skokie, but they are right down the road. For those who don’t know, there is a famous U.S. Supreme Court case about Skokie. In 1977, a group of American Nazis wanted to march in Skokie, a town with a large number of Jewish Holocaust survivors. The town did not allow the Nazis to march, but the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that it was within the Nazi’s 1st Amendment right to assemble. However, due to major protests by the people of Skokie, the Nazi march was never held, and people all across America raised money for The Illinois Holocaust Museum to counteract the Nazi hatred. The museum is still there ( I have not yet been there, but I plan to go, and I will report on my blog when I do.

The name Skokie comes from the Pottawatomie word for “marsh.” Marshes are great places for birds because of the water, vegetation and protection. The town is no longer marshy though because canals and a lagoon have been built. But the lagoon is a pretty good substitute for the marsh as far as the birds are concerned, and they come in droves. I met (from a distance!) my former Oak Park neighbors, and big birders, Chuck Berman and Barbara Brotman, there, and we ended up seeing some cool birds together.

THree social distanced and masked people. Thomas is tall with curly hair.
Barbara Brotman, me, and Chuck Berman

One of the birds we saw was a blackpoll warbler. It took some time for us to identify the bird, because it looks different in the fall and the spring, and I had only seen them in the spring before. My father says that the bird is like him; he looked much different in the spring of his life!

Another good bird today was a belted kingfisher. The belted kingfisher is a blue and white bird that looks like it has a mohawk! I first identified it by sound, but then turned to see it flying over the lagoon. The kingfisher doesn’t sound like you would think a bird sounds. It doesn’t sing, but instead makes a “tack-tack-tack” sound. I think of wood being thrown into a chipper or of me gargling in the morning. You can hear the belted kingfisher here on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website ( . The Cornell Lab has a really great team of people who are dedicated to helping save the environment through a deep appreciation of how amazing birds are. On this Labor Day, I would like to give a big shout-out to the Cornell Lab for all you do.

For your enjoyment: my best picture of the day...

The great blue heron is always photogenic.

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