Famed piping plovers Monty and Rose at Montrose Beach. Credit: Chicago Park District/Tony Troche

CHICAGO — The city’s three fuzzy baby piping plover chicks have received their names.

People submitted more than 300 names for the chicks, and the winners were revealed Saturday: Hazel, Esperanza and Nish, according to the Chicago Piping Plovers site. The chicks are the babies of Montrose Beach’s famed Great Lakes piping plovers, Monty and Rose.

Hazel’s name honors Hazel Johnson, an environmental activist known for her work on the South Side.

Esperanza means “hope” in Spanish, with the name being a nod to the fact “that in a year and time so filled with pain, uncertainty and sorrow, there is still hope,” according to the Chicago Piping Plovers site. The name also honors Chicago’s Hispanic community.

And Nish’s name pays tribute to the Potowatomi heritage, according to the Chicago Piping Plovers site. The name was picked to “highlight the direct relationship and contribution of the Council of the Three Fires (Potawatomi, Ojibwa and Odawa) to what is now modern-day Chicago.”

The chicks have been banded and are still being raised by their parents at Montrose.

Great Lakes piping plovers are endangered and are a federally protected species. A “rotating crew of volunteer piping plover monitors” are helping to take care of the chicks at their lakefront home, according to a June press release from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Monty and Rose were first spotted at Montrose Beach in May 2019. The two captivated the city and hatched two chicks that summer.

There are only 70 known pairs of Great Lakes piping plovers, which are rarely found in Illinois, according to the Illinois Ornithological Society. It had been 50 years since piping plovers had chosen to nest in city limits.

The two returned to the lakefront this May to lay their eggs. Visitors to the area have been asked to be careful of the bird family. Disruptions could cause the chicks to scatter, endangering them.

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