UPTOWN — Montrose Harbor is once again home to baby piping plovers after their endangered parents, Monty and Rose, saw three chicks hatch at their lakefront nest this week.
Great Lakes piping plovers Monty and Rose had two chicks hatch in their nest Wednesday afternoon at Montrose Beach, wildlife volunteers confirmed. A third chick hatched Thursday morning and volunteers are still awaiting word on the birds’ fourth egg.
The successful hatching marks the third straight year Monty and Rose have produced offspring at the popular lakefront destination.
A “tiny, fuzzy chick” was first spotted in Monty and Rose’s nest by volunteers around 2 p.m. Wednesday, Tamima Itani, who helps lead the plover conservation effort at Montrose, said in an email announcement. An hour later, Rose was spotted carrying away a piece of egg shell from the nest, indicating the arrival a second baby plover.
The third hatched around 7:50 a.m. Thursday, Itani said. A picture from a nearby camera set up near their fenced-off nest showed two of the chicks hanging out near their parents.
This week’s strong winds and cold weather have kept the plover chicks mostly nestled under their parents in their nest, Itani said. The chicks have been seen on camera wandering around the nest but not veering much outside the wire cage around the nest that is meant to keep out predators.
The site of plover chicks is welcomed news for their watchers, as Monty and Rose suffered a serious setback in earlier efforts to nest this year.
The couple returned to Montrose Beach for the third straight summer, and nested and produced three eggs in May. In early June, a skunk was able to reach into the wire cage and grab the eggs before making off with and eating them.
Monty and Rose made a new nest on the beach a week later and produced four more eggs. Three of the those four eggs have now hatched.
Now, wildlife volunteers will turn their efforts to keeping the beach as free of predators as possible. Beach goers, off-leash dogs and photographers can disturb the young plover family and make the chicks more susceptible to predators, Itani said in her blog about the lakefront plovers.
“Any disruption, even going too close to the plovers to take photos, can result in flushing the birds and separating the chicks from adults leaving them vulnerable to predators,” she wrote. “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.”
The chicks will have more room to roam free of humans this year, as the Chicago Park District fenced off a large part of the new dunes protected area for the plover family.
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