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Uptown, Edgewater, Rogers Park

Monty And Rose Have A New Nest And Egg After Lakefront Skunk Ate Their Last 4

The resilient, endangered piping plovers have rebounded from last week's skunk attack to make a new nest and lay an egg at Montrose Beach.

Famed piping plovers Monty and Rose have returned to Montrose Beach.
Chicago Park District/Tony Troche
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UPTOWN — Beloved piping plovers Monty and Rose are making a second effort at producing chicks this year, one week after their previous nest was attacked by a skunk.

The Great Lakes piping plovers made a nest and laid an egg at their summer home in Montrose Harbor, wildlife enthusiasts confirmed Thursday. The nest was discovered Wednesday, less than a week after their previous nesting effort was scuttled.

Last week, a skunk reached into the protective caging around the plover nest and ate Monty and Rose’s four eggs. It was a serious setback for the endangered birds, who have successfully nested at Montrose Harbor the past two years.

But the birds wasted little time in trying to start a second nest.

“Monty and Rose have been scraping potential nest sites as early as” the morning a skunk ate their eggs, said Bob Dolgan, a volunteer bird watcher at Montrose Harbor. “There was the thought that an egg could be coming soon.”

Only one egg was spotted Wednesday, and birders are on the lookout for as many as three more, Dolgan said.

A new, hopefully skunk-proof wire enclosure has been placed over the new nest. The old enclosure withstood a fox perching on it and families of skunks and raccoons trying to outsmart it. But that enclosure failed last week when some of the welded wire came loose, allowing a skunk to reach through, Dolgan said.

Credit: Chicago Park District
A new, hopefully skunk-proof wire cage has been erected around Monty and Rose’s new nest.

A new enclosure placed over the nest is larger and made of stronger wire and welding than the previous one, according to the Chicago Park District. Cameras have been set up so officials can monitor the nest. Monty and Rose are still able to move in and out as they take turns incubating their eggs and feeding away from the nest.

The nest was discovered in the northwest portion of the Montrose dunes area, which has been closed off to give the plovers more space to roam, Dolgan said. This nest is a bit more secluded than the previous one, which was on the beach but within the fenced-off dunes area.

Monty and Rose have had setbacks in breeding before. In 2019, the birds’ first nest was lost to flooding, but the pair re-nested and successfully reared chicks. Birders are hoping for a similar situation this year.

“It’s exciting,” Dolgan said. “As saddened as I am by what happened with the skunks, this is still such an amazing conservation story.”

This story has been updated to note Monty and Rose lost four eggs to a skunk.

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