A week after suffering the devastating loss of Monty, one half of Chicago’s beloved piping plover power couple, the city’s birding community has cause for celebration.
Imani, one of Monty and Rose’s 2021 chicks, has been positively identified on a beach in Duluth, Minnesota.
Chicago’s plover monitors shared the happy news on social media Friday, a day that coincidentally happens to be Endangered Species Day.
Great Lakes piping plovers, never a particularly common or widespread species, have been dwindling in numbers for more than 100 years, according to the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort.
They’ve been hunted and collected — two practices that were eventually outlawed — but also have suffered from habitat loss both in their summer nesting grounds in Great Lakes states and their wintering grounds in the southern U.S. Beachfront development and recreation continue to eat away at their habitat today.
Once down to just 11 to 14 breeding pairs, the plover population has slightly rebounded in recent decades due to intensive conservation efforts. Plover monitors have reported a total of 30 active nests in the Great Lakes so far this year, with another 22 potential pairs also identified. Still the birds remain extremely vulnerable, which is one reason the tale of Monty and Rose, who improbably raised three successive groups of chicks on a beach in Chicago, gave people hope for plovers’ future.
The appearance of Imani — a name that means “faith” in Swahili — points to the enduring legacy of Monty and Rose. As does the appearance of a completely unrelated piping plover, who turned up at Montrose Beach on May 17 to make a pit stop before continuing north.
The Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort posted on its Facebook page: “Thanks to Monty, Rose and their human allies who have worked so hard to make Montrose Beach an inviting rest stop, sanctuary and fueling station for migratory shorebirds and many other species. This important island of habitat in one of the country’s biggest cities contineus to play a vital role in plovers’ lives!”
Jumping for Joy!
We are ecstatic to report Imani, one of Monty and Rose’s 2021 chicks has been spotted in Duluth, MN!
He (yes, almost certainly male) was spotted and May 16, we learned today, this #EndangeredSpeciesDay #plover
: Daniel Eastman (Imani as a chick) pic.twitter.com/ji184MPL3t
— Chicago Piping Plovers (@ChicagoPiping) May 20, 2022