MONTROSE BEACH — Monty, the beloved Great Lakes piping plover who died earlier this month at Montrose Beach, suffered from a severe fungal respiratory infection, officials announced Tuesday.
Monty died May 13 in front of volunteers who have watched over him since he and his mate, Rose, arrived on the beach in 2019. It was the first time the rare species of piping plover nested in Chicago in five decades, leading to a wave of conservation efforts and an outpouring of love.
After wintering in the South, the birds returned to nest and mate in 2020 and 2021, but only Monty came back this year. Rose has not been spotted, although their 2021 chick Imani returned to the beach this month.
A necropsy was performed on Monty’s remains by Lincoln Park Zoo in partnership with U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and University of Illinois Zoological Pathology Program.
The bird did not show any signs of high pathogenic avian influenza, also known as bird flu, officials said.
“After this procedure, it was determined that Monty died of a severe fungal respiratory infection, including a laryngitis which restricted his airway,” zoo officials said in a statement. “Additional testing is being conducted to identify the fungus but it is suspected as environmental in origin.”
Samples from the necropsy are being preserved by doctors at the University of Minnesota as part of a genetic study of the Great Lakes piping plover population.
In addition, Monty’s remains will be given to the Field Museum’s avian department for future studies to help in the recovery of the Great Lake piping plovers, zoo officials said.
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