Imani Is Back at Montrose Beach. Will This Be the Year Chicago’s Piping Plover Bachelor Finds a Mate?

Imani at Montrose Beach, April 2023. (Matthew Dolkart)Imani at Montrose Beach, April 2023. (Matthew Dolkart)

Piping plover watch is officially on at Montrose Beach with the arrival of Imani, which was reported early Thursday.

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“He is looking great,” said an ecstatic Tamima Itani, coordinator of the brigade of volunteer plover monitors at Montrose.

Imani was one of two surviving chicks born in 2021 to Chicago’s beloved piping plover lovebirds, Monty and Rose. He’s returned to Montrose Beach three years running now, but has yet to woo a mate.

A female plover briefly joined Imani in spring 2023 but then flew the coop.

To boost Imani’s chances of making a love connection, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service released three captive-reared chicks at Montrose last year, in the hopes they would return to Chicago’s lakefront in 2024.

Now it’s a waiting game.

Because Imani is a seasoned plover, official monitoring won’t start right away, Itani said.

“But there will be plenty of eyes on him,” she added.

The Chicago Park District announced Thursday that it will be adding fencing along the Montrose pier and the dune beach, effectively closing off a stretch of beach to protect foraging shore birds, including Imani.

The Great Lakes piping plover population was listed as federally endangered in 1986, when the number of breeding pairs plummeted to fewer than 20.

Monty and Rose’s arrival at Montrose in 2019 — the first time a pair of piping plovers nested in Cook County in 71 years — has been one of the plover recovery effort's great success stories.

They reared three successive broods before both died in 2022.

Contact Patty Wetli: @pattywetli | (773) 509-5623 |  [email protected]

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