While they await the arrival of their own chicks, Chicago’s beloved piping plovers, Monty and Rose, have just become grandparents — four times over.
The couple’s 2020 chick, Nish, and his mate, Nellie, successfully hatched their own brood of four on Thursday, the Black Swamp Bird Observatory announced via Twitter.
Nish and Nellie are the first Great Lakes piping plovers to nest in Ohio in more than 80 years, their arrival meeting with an outpouring of excitement and goodwill.
The duo chose a nesting site at Maumee Bay State Park, just outside Toledo, on the shore of Lake Erie. Borrowing the playbook from their Chicago counterparts, the Black Swamp team immediately set up a rotation of volunteer plover monitors and enlisted the aid of wildlife officials to ensure the birds’ safety, particularly once eggs appeared June 4.
An extensive swath of beach and a parking lot at Maumee Bay State Park, a popular destination for golfers and vacationers, has been closed off to give the plovers room to roam and forage undisturbed.
The Great Lakes piping plover was listed as federally endangered in 1986, at which point a population that once counted 500 to 800 breeding pairs had fallen to fewer than 20, all in northern Michigan. In recent years, the number has rebounded to closer to 70 breeding pairs.
The improbable success of Monty and Rose, who’ve chosen to nest on Chicago’s lakefront three years running, captured the attention of a global audience and raised the profile of the plovers plight exponentially. The couple added to their legend this spring and summer, returning to Chicago within a day of each other despite wintering hundreds of miles apart in Texas and Florida, and then recovering from the loss of their first clutch of eggs (eaten by a rogue skunk) by laying a second.
The second clutch was reported June 10, with plover eggs typically hatching within a month.
Nellie and Nish have been busy today! The fourth egg just hatched and everyone seems well so far! The first Piping Plover nest that has been successful in Ohio in over 80 years! #pipingplover #endangeredspecies #birds pic.twitter.com/Z0RH5an0pf
— Black Swamp Bird Obs (@BSBOBIRD) July 1, 2021