Federally endangered plovers are experiencing a record breeding season

Monty and Rose, who achieved native fame in 2019 as the primary federally threatened pipe plover to lift a household in Chicago in practically 60 years, left from North Aspect Seashore the place they spent three summers.

However the hope that tiny, spirited shorebirds have sparked a spark for his or her species continues to develop.

The Nice Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Staff has introduced a file breeding season in 2022, with 149 wild chicks reaching the fledgling – or flight – stage, essentially the most for the reason that official census started in 1984.

“I’m ecstatic,” mentioned Jillian Farkas, Nice Lakes Piping Coordinator for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, who famous that in 2020, solely 87 chicks survived to turn into chicks.

“The truth that we’ve about 150 chicks – solely with wild populations – is wonderful. When you’ve that prime charge, it makes you actually excited for what’s to come back,” Farkas mentioned.

As well as, she mentioned, there’s one other wild chick that’s anticipated to develop this summer time, and there are 10 extra chicks in captivity which are raised, or anticipated to take action.

Declared endangered in 1986, the Nice Lakes mainstay has taken benefit of decrease lake ranges this yr, mentioned Farkas, creating extra habitat, in addition to monitoring and managing predators in lots of places and a scarcity of main storm occasions.

General, there are actually 72 breeding pairs of plovers within the Nice Lakes area, Farkas mentioned, lower than half of the 150 pairs wanted for the birds to be taken off the endangered species listing.

Barely bigger than sparrows, with giant darkish eyes, quick beaks, daring black and white markings and orange ft, pipe plovers are engaging little birds, and Chicagoans shortly adopted Monty and Rose once they started breeding in Montrose Seashore in the summertime of 2019.

Sparrows have appeared on T-shirts, beer cans, and in two documentaries.

The couple returned to their nest in Montrose in the summertime of 2020 and 2021, and produced a complete of seven younger birds.

This yr’s pipe plover season began off sadly. Rose by no means returned from her winter lands, and Monty died abruptly of a respiratory an infection in Montrose Seashore on Could 13.

However at the same time as they mourned Monty’s funeral, followers observed Monty’s son Imani and Rose, born in 2021, who landed in Montrose 10 days after his father’s dying.

“I hope that the unhappiness will soften away and get replaced by pleasure and gratitude,” mentioned Leslie Burns, a hostess on the dunes in Montrose Seashore, watching over Monty and Rose’s son.

Apparently prepared for love, Emani dug shallow nests within the sand and chased down giant birds.

“He principally had an space near () the sidewalk, and anybody who bought near him, he was continually chasing them,” mentioned Tamima Itani, the lead volunteer coordinator for the Chicago Piping Blowers monitoring program. “That was enjoyable to look at, as a result of it jogged my memory a lot of Monty.”

Sadly, Imani didn’t discover a companion at Montrose this yr, and left round July 11.

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Rose by no means appeared in Montrose this summer time, an indication that she probably died, though a really small share of pipe plovers would miss a summer time season within the Nice Lakes area, based on Itani.

After Emani left Montrose, the fledgling plover, which had solely hatched this summer time, landed for just a few days.

Itani mentioned the mysterious fowl was not tied up, nevertheless it probably hatched in a nest in Michigan the place keepers had been unable to tie the chicks. The mysterious plover can even come from an unattended nest within the Nice Lakes, and even the Nice Plains.

Whereas Montrose is the one place plovers have been seen efficiently breeding in Chicago, birds have been seen passing by way of Rainbow Seashore on the south facet.

With the annual southern migration of the birds now underway, Itani mentioned, there could also be extra alternatives to see them at Montrose Seashore, Rainbow Seashore and Lake County Municipal Waukegan Seashore. She requested followers to proceed taking measures to guard birds, resembling protecting canine off the seaside.

“We need to give them secure passage,” Itani mentioned. “Right here in Chicago, we actually pleasure ourselves on how a lot we love our pipe plovers.”

nschoenberg@chicagotribune.com