Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach in 2019. Credit: Tamima Itani/Illinois Ornithological Society

MONTROSE BEACH — Chicago’s favorite pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers, known as Monty and Rose, have had two of their eggs hatch, a triumph for the endangered species fighting to survive at Montrose Beach.

Tammia Itani, treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society, said news of the two successful hatchings has put birders over the moon.

“This is a huge success story,” she said.

The chicks won’t likely leave the nest for at least 25 days. Credit: Tom Lally

A Great Lakes Piping Plover chick hasn’t hatched in Chicago since 1955.

As excited as birders were to see the eggs hatch, the next month is the most precarious time for these young chicks, who won’t likely fly from the nest for at least 25 days.

Despite the heavy rains this week, the natural elements don’t concern Itani. Instead, it is humans who pose the greatest threat to the Plover chicks.

“They are so adorable that everyone wants to see them,” she said.

Itani said that conservationists and birders are so excited that Chicagoans are taking an interest in these extremely rare and federally protected birds.

But please, respect boundary lines, she said. If a “Plover watcher” (volunteers that are watching the birds around the clock) asks you to move, please listen, she said.

The chick’s viability and chance of survival is only 1.5 chicks per clutch of four eggs, so birders are doing everything they can to help keep them safe.

The greatest threat the Plover chicks will face is human intervention. Credit: Tom Lally

Luckily for them, Monty and Rose chose a safe location on the beach, high enough to hopefully stay safe from a flooding Montrose Beach.

Their biggest threat outside of humans will be seagulls and other predators. Chicagoans who want to help the chicks should make sure their dogs are kept on a leash when they are at Montrose Beach.

Itani said that she hoped that the other two eggs will hatch, and Monty and Rose will have four fledglings.

“We are hoping that at least two chicks will survive,” she said. “We like to round up.”

Currently the Plovers have sparked citywide debate over whether or not the MAMBY at The Beach music festival should be allowed to operate at Montrose Beach in August.

Despite calls from conservationists to move the event, the event organizer has said he has no plans to do so. The only agency that could stand in MAMBY’s way is the Chicago Park District who controls the festival’s permitting.

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