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Rainbow Beach Piping Plover Leaves South Side For Her ‘Usual Spot’ In Michigan, Birders Say

After a brief South Side stop, Of,bY:X,G was seen Wednesday morning "in her usual spot" at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

Left: The Great Lakes piping plover spotted Tuesday at Rainbow Beach in South Shore by birder and photographer Ian Sarmiento. Right: A view of the Chicago skyline from Rainbow Beach.
Ian Sarmiento/Chicago Piping Plovers; Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago

SOUTH SHORE — A Great Lakes piping plover spotted earlier this week at Rainbow Beach has left Chicago and moved on to her regular nesting spot in Michigan.

Of,bY:X,G, a 5-year-old female plover, was spotted Tuesday at Rainbow Beach, 3111 E. 77th St., by Ian Sarmiento, a photographer and member of the Chicago Piping Plovers birding group.

The group represents environmentalists’ efforts to care for Monty and Rose, the plovers who captured the city’s heart when they nested at Montrose Beach in 2019 — the first time piping plovers had done so in Chicago since 1955.

Alas, Of,bY:X,G appears to have only stopped over in South Shore on her way home to Michigan’s Lower Peninsula.

She was seen Wednesday morning “in her usual spot” at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, Chicago Ornithological Society president Edward Warden said Thursday.

Though Of,bY:X,G is now on the other side of Lake Michigan, the Chicago Audubon Society and the state and local ornithological societies will still host a spring cleaning 10 a.m. Saturday at Rainbow Beach Park, in an effort to prepare the beach for plovers to nest.

An RSVP is required to volunteer. For more information on the cleanup, click here.

Rainbow Beach Park “is a very promising space” for nesting plovers, with plenty of room and opportunities for the birds to find food and shelter, Warden said Wednesday.

Experts who assessed Chicago’s beaches after Monty and Rose’s arrival determined the South Shore park “was the top choice, following Montrose, for a site that has what it takes to host plovers,” he said.

The South Side “has enough of a fan base [and] volunteer base to look over a piping plover pair,” said Bob Dolgan, a birder and filmmaker whose latest documentary about Monty and Rose will be screened Thursday at 10 p.m. on WTTW.

“A lot of people consider Montrose Beach Dunes, and the lakefront as a whole, as sort of their backyard,” Dolgan said. “When an interesting pair of birds show up in your backyard, people tend to kind of fall in love with them.”

Plovers have nested on the South Side in the past, including at Wolf Lake and Lake Calumet, Dolgan said. It’s also “likely” they nested in what’s now the South Side before European settlers arrived, he said.

Monty was spotted Thursday at Montrose Beach. There’s no sign yet of his longtime mate, Rose, who was last seen in February in Florida. The pair has come to the North Side to raise chicks every spring and summer since 2019.

RELATED: Monty’s Back! Montrose Beach’s Beloved Piping Plover Patriarch Has Been Spotted In Chicago

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