Monty the piping plover has once again seemingly defied physics and returned to Chicago a mere day after reportedly leaving his wintering grounds in Texas.
Despite the 1,100-mile flight, Monty was seen scampering at Montrose Beach Dunes Thursday, on a warm, welcoming spring day. Monty now awaits the arrival of his long-time mate Rose, who typically winters in Florida. In the past, the pair, who created a sensation with their first nesting season in 2019, have flown into Chicago within hours or a day of each other.
Running into the weekend like...
You are Monty at Montrose Beach. He's back!!!
— Chicago Piping Plovers (@ChicagoPiping) April 21, 2022
Once Rose makes her hoped-for appearance, the pair’s mating ritual will begin. Only 70 breeding pairs of the endangered Great Lakes piping plovers are known to exist.
The couple experienced a fraught breeding season in 2021, losing their first clutch of eggs to a skunk attack. Rose heroically laid a second clutch of four eggs, all of which hatched (one with a little help from the Lincoln Park Zoo) but only two of which survived.
To give the plovers the space they need to successfully breed and safely incubate and raise their chicks, the Montrose Dunes are roped off from the public while a troop of volunteer plover monitors, along with staff from the Chicago Park District, Illinois Department of Natural Resources and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service keep watch over the birds.