UPTOWN — The city’s most famous pair of endangered migratory birds have returned to Montrose Beach, choosing to mate at the popular lakefront park for the second consecutive year.
Chicago Park District staffers spotted the Great Lakes piping plover couple, named Monty and Rose, Friday morning at Montrose Beach, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. After successfully nesting last year in Chicago — the first piping plovers to do so since 1955 — it appears the federally-protected birds will once again seek to mate at the lakefront park.
The piping plover pair are “already engaging in courtship behavior,” Louise Clemency, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement.
Monty and Rose were first spotted in May 2019 at Montrose Beach, nesting at the popular lakefront park for the summer. Their choice to nest at the busy Montrose Beach set off a battle between environmentalists, beachgoers and concert promoters — and resulted in a successful nesting that captivated the city.
Monty and Rose may have it a little easier this year, as the lakefront has been closed to the public since late March.
Staff from the city, state and federal agencies are working to monitor the birds and help protect their nest should they mate, Clemency said.
Once eggs are laid, an Illinois Department of Natural Resources biologist will set a wire “exposure” over the eggs to protect them from predators. Monty and Rose will be able to access the eggs as they take turns incubating the eggs and feeding. A camera will also be erected to monitor the nest.
Other piping plovers were spotted at Montrose Beach and in Waukegan last week, but those birds were likely stopping here before heading north, birders said. The sighting put wildlife professionals and bird watchers on notice for the potential return of Monty and Rose.
The birds are seldom seen in Illinois. The Great Lakes piping plover population, once down to less than twenty pairs, has grown to around 70 breeding pairs thanks to recovery efforts.
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