UPTOWN – When Monty and Rose landed in Chicago, many locals had never heard of a piping plover.
But after three years of nesting in Montrose Beach, Monty and Rose have not only put their endangered species on the map, they’ve advanced conservation efforts in the heart of the city and brought happiness to thousands of people in Chicago. and beyond.
But Monty died in Montrose Beach this month after returning to his summer home for the fourth time. Rose has not been seen this summer and it is feared she is dead, ornithologists said.
Both birds and their heritage were honored in a ceremony on Wednesday.
“They withstood the impossible and nested on the busiest beaches,” said Tamima Itani, lead plover volunteer at Montrose Beach. “Thank you Monty and Rose for the grace, love, resilience or perseverance you have given us.”
Dozens of people gathered at Montrose Beach for the tribute. He stood near the birds’ favorite nesting sites, honoring their contributions to conservation work and the joy the little animals brought to the city. It also served as a “thank you” to the approximately 200 volunteers who have watched over the plovers over the past few years.
“These birds have changed the whole city’s perspective on wildlife and wildlife conservation,” said Peter Tolzmann, who at 13 is the youngest member of the volunteer plovers watching group. “Being a part of this is really awesome.”
Monty and Rose stole the hearts of Chicago when they first nested at Montrose Beach in 2019, becoming the first Great Lakes Piping Plovers to nest in the city since the 1950s. They returned in 2020 and 2021 to raise chicks.
The city has gathered around the plovers. A music festival scheduled to take place in 2019 at Montrose Beach has been canceled to ensure the birds are protected. At the suggestion of volunteer birdwatchers, the Chicago Park District added 3 acres of beach to the Montrose Harbor Dune Protected Area.
Bird watchers regularly watched Monty and Rose at the beach and tried to make sure their eggs wouldn’t be eaten by other creatures.
Monty and Rose successfully fledged seven chicks at Montrose. It’s been a very successful series of breeding seasons for plovers, and it’s a testament to the hard work volunteers are doing to keep them safe, said Louise Clemency, Chicago field office supervisor for the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Some of Monty and Rose’s chicks went on to make their own news.
One of their chicks, Nish, nested last year on a beach near Toledo, Ohio, the first time plovers have nested in Ohio in over 80 years. Nish and his partner raised four chicks last year.
Imani, born in Montrose Beach to Monty and Rose last year, returned to Montrose this week after a brief stopover in Minnesota. The one-year-old male plover remains at Montrose Beach, although he does not yet have a mate.
The success of Monty and Rose’s family is due in part to volunteer stewards. Meeting on Wednesday at Montrose Beach, these volunteers pledged to continue advocating for ecological protection in honor of Monty and Rose.
“We built this and they came,” said Leslie Borns, the chief steward of the Montrose Dunes region for two decades. “I hope you will join us…to rededicate yourselves to this effort.”
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