UPTOWN — The story of Monty and Rose is being retold in a children’s book, with proceeds from its sale benefiting a study to boost the population of the endangered Great Lakes piping plover.
Veteran bird watcher Tamima Itani named Monty and Rose, the piping plovers who earned the city’s affection after nesting at Montrose Beach, which the birds have done for three years in a row.
Itani, vice president of the Illinois Ornithological Society, has now written a children’s book about the birds’ first summer at Montrose Beach.
“Monty and Rose Nest at Montrose” tells the story of the piping plovers staying for the summer mating season at Montrose Beach in 2019. Their presence delighted wildlife enthusiasts, but that first year included trials and tribulations for the birds that makes for a good children’s story, Itani said.
“I’ve been involved in their story from the very beginning,” she said. “Piping plovers are so endearing. Their looks, their personality, how cute the chicks are. They lend themselves well to a children’s book.
Monty and Rose nested at Montrose beach in summer 2019, the first time the endangered bird species had nested in city boundaries since 1955. At the time, they were one of 70 known pairs of piping plovers left in the wild.
Their first nest was washed out by a storm. The eggs were recovered, but they did not hatch.
The birds rebounded and nested again, successfully rearing two piping plover chicks. Throughout the way, the faced threats from natural predators, dogs and humans. That story is recounted in the children’s book, written for kids 2-8.
Monty and Rose also sparked an environmental battle on the lakefront, causing the moving of beach volleyball courts and the canceling of a music festival. That story is not recounted in the book as it would go over most kids’ heads, Itani said.
The book is on sale now for $18.50 and can be ordered online.
Itani will donate 100 percent of the proceeds to a University of Minnesota study trying to boost the survival rates of piping plover chicks reared in captivity.
Every year, there are piping plover eggs that are abandoned and rescued before being brought to the Detroit Zoo, which manages a captive rearing facility for Great Lakes piping plovers. A nest Monty and Rose made at Waukegan Beach was taken there.
Only about one-third of the birds reared at the zoo are seen again, Itani said. Now, a team at the University of Minnesota is working to GPS tag the captive-reared chicks to learn more about their fate in the hope of boosting their survival rate. For more on the study, click here.
“They are a big part of the [piping plover] population, these chicks,” Itani said. “Hopefully more chicks will be able to survive their release.”
Aside from helping plover research, the book seeks to give kids an early glimpse at nature and the environmental stories that are found in Chicago, Itani said.
“With children, falling in love with piping plovers early will motivate them to help them later on,” she said.
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