UPTOWN — One half of Chicago’s favorite pair of endangered migratory birds has landed at Montrose Beach.
Rose, the female Great Lakes piping plover, was spotted at Montrose Beach Sunday, marking the third straight year the bird has come to the North Side beach during mating season.
For the past two years, Rose and her mate, Monty, have chosen to nest at Montrose Beach. Their presence at the beach in 2019 marked the first time a pair of endangered piping plovers had chosen to nest in Chicago since 1955.
Rose returned to Montrose from her winter home in Anclote Key, Florida, about 1,100 miles from Chicago, according to Chicago birder Bob Dolgan. Monty, her male mate, was seen last week in Texas but has yet to be spotted along the lakefront.
“It’s very exciting,” Dolgan said. “There are no guarantees when birds are traveling 1,000 miles. Hopefully this is the start of another successful summer for the birds.”
The bird couple has successfully nested along the beach for the last two years. Their first effort to nest at the beach resulted in a conservation effort, which caused beach volleyball games to be relocated and a music festival to be canceled.
Last year, the birds had the beach free of human interaction, as much of Chicago’s lakefront was off-limits during the height of the coronavirus pandemic.
But this year’s effort could be aided by the Chicago Park District’s recent decision to expand the plovers’ favored nesting grounds.
Earlier this month, the Park District approved a plan to add just over three acres of Montrose Beach to the adjacent Montrose Dune Natural Area. The beach’s easternmost portion — which Monty and Rose have chosen as their yearly nesting and foraging ground — has been absorbed into the natural area.
While birders continue to look for the return of Monty and the eventual watch for a nest and eggs, the piping plovers could have some familiar company this year at Montrose. The couple’s chicks from last year — Esperanza, Hazel and Nish — could return to Montrose as well, Dolgan said.
“The question is, where will those birds show up?” Dolgan said. “It’s fun to be on the lookout for that.”
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