UPTOWN — Montrose Beach is once again the home of a newborn piping plover chick, after their parents Monty and Rose successfully mated at the lakefront for the second consecutive year.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced Thursday that the first chick hatched at Monty and Rose’s summer lakeside nest.
Monty and Rose were first spotted this year at Montrose Beach in May, delighting birders who wondered if the couple would return to their previous nesting ground.
By late May, eggs were already spotted in the birds’ nest, with wildlife officials predicting a mid-June hatch date.
The new chick has been spotted running around Montrose Beach under the watchful eye of volunteer birders, and the chick’s parents, of course.
“Piping plover chicks are able to leave the nest after hatching and run around finding small bugs to feed themselves,” Louise Clemency, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, said in a statement. “Monty and Rose do not feed the chicks, but spend their time guarding the tiny puffballs from predators like gulls and raccoons.”
Last summer marked the first time in more than 50 years that piping plovers, a federally protected species, chose to nest in city limits. 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 promoters of a lakefront music festival.
Monty and Rose have nested farther from the beach and shoreline than they did last year, a move that may prove to be beneficial, said Brad Semel, endangered species recovery specialist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Predators have stayed closer to the water and a jetty near the Montrose natural area, keeping away from the nest.
The birds’ nesting efforts will also likely be aided by the city’s ongoing stay at home order and the closure of the lakefront. But with the lakefront trail preparing to re-open, park goers will have to be mindful of the bird family, Clemency said.
“Everyone can help by following guidance provided by the plover monitors on where the plover family currently is and how to observe them without putting them in danger,” she said.
The Great Lakes piping plover population, once down to less than 20 pairs, has grown to around 70 breeding pairs thanks to recovery efforts.
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