UPTOWN — Move aside, “Where’s Waldo?” — the only one we’re looking for is Rose the piping plover.
Monty and Rose, two Great Lakes piping plovers, have delighted Chicago by spending the past three summers nesting at Montrose Beach. Birders had hoped the two would come back this year.
Monty, the male, returned to Montrose from his winter home in Texas on April 21. So far, there has been no sight of Rose.
Monty and Rose have returned to Montrose Beach within days of each other the past two years. But in 2019, Monty returned April 20 while Rose returned May 10, said Tamima Itani, a volunteer bird watcher at Montrose Harbor and author of the Monty and Rose children’s book.
“We’re still within that range,” Itani said.
At issue is the weather patterns that impact bird migration.
The spring was cold and wet — not the most favorable conditions for migrating thousands of miles. But with warmer temperatures coming in, and favorable wind conditions, the weather has been much more favorable for migration.
Early this week is considered peak bird migration season, according to Chicago Bird Collision Monitors. Nearly 7 million birds crossed Cook County on Sunday, according to the group.
That means there’s still plenty of time for Rose’s return, Itani said.
“It’s been a slow migration season with conditions only becoming very favorable” Sunday, she said. “We’ll see what happens this week.”
Great Lakes piping plovers have been late arriving at their summer homes across the Midwest this year, said Bob Dolgan, a documentarian who produced a film on Monty and Rose.
It is only natural to wonder or worry about the tiny birds, though.
“You do worry about the birds throughout the winter,” Dolgan said when Monty returned. “I think it’s an underdog story, for sure. It’s an endearing story. They’re incredibly charismatic birds. They’re tenacious, in their own way.”
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