UPTOWN — First, they shocked birders and beachgoers when they nested at Montrose Beach this summer, the first time their species had done so in decades. Then they caused a battle between environmentalists and concert promoters who sought to put on a festival near their nesting grounds.
Now, Chicago’s favorite pair of adorable Great Lakes piping plovers will be honored with their own day in Illinois, with Gov. JB Pritzker proclaiming Nov. 18 as Piping Plover Day.
The two piping plovers — named Monty and Rose — were first spotted in May at Montrose Beach, nesting at the popular lakefront park for the summer. Great Lakes piping plovers are a federally protected species, with only about 70 known pairs of the small birds in the wild. The birds are seldom seen in Illinois, and before this summer, piping plovers had not nested in city limits since 1955, according to volunteer birder Bob Dolgan.
Volunteers like Dolgan worked to see the birds were not disturbed as they sought to mate at Montrose Beach. That caused a contentious fight with the organizers of electronic music festival Mamby on the Beach, which sought to hold its event near the birds’ nesting grounds. The festival was eventually canceled because of concerns for the birds’ safety.
Monty and Rose then successfully fledged two piping plover chicks before flying south for the winter sometime in August.
The birds’ heartwarming saga captivated Chicagoans all summer long. Pritzker will mark the events, and the work of volunteers, with Piping Plover Day on Nov. 18.
“Nearly 200 people volunteered their time throughout the summer of 2019 to protect these birds, educating hundreds if not thousands of beach goers,” Pritzker said in issuing the proclamation.
The events have also been documented in a film. Dolgan, one of the birders instrumental in protecting the plovers, has produced a documentary on the events, called “Monty and Rose.”
Dolgan raised $5,000 for the documentary, which tells the story of the fight to protect the birds throughout the summer.
“No one could have predicted that a pair would attempt to nest on one of the busiest stretches on perhaps the busiest beach in Chicago,” Dolgan said in a statement. “That it happened 15 minutes from my front door was the storytelling opportunity of a lifetime, and there were many twists and turns along the way.”
“Monty and Rose” will premier Nov. 18 at the Music Box Theatre in Lakeview. That screening of the documentary is sold out, but there are at least four other screenings planned.
For more information on the screenings, check here. And here is the trailer for the documentary “Monty and Rose.”
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