Stories by patty wetli

Memorial for Chicago’s Piping Plovers Monty and Rose Full of Joy, Hope: ‘It Doesn’t End Here’

A memorial for Monty and Rose was held May 25, 2022, at Montrose Beach. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

On Wednesday evening, a memorial was held for the beloved piping plovers Monty and Rose, not so much to mourn the loss of the birds but to celebrate the wonder of their time in Chicago.

Start of Early Voting in Chicago Pushed Back Due to Ballot Changes

(WTTW News)

Early voting at the Chicago Board of Elections super site was to have started May 26, but has been pushed back to May 31 after late breaking ballot changes.

After Months on the Lam, Runaway Bison Finally Captured in Lake County Forest Preserve

Bison, pictured in this file photo, are hard to miss, but one eluded capture for months in Lake County. (Jonathan Mast / Unsplash)

The bison, known as “Tyson” or “Billy,” has been on the loose since fall 2021 after escaping from a Wauconda farm. 

The Latest Monarch Count Is Out: Mexico Reports Slight Increase, Long Way From Recovery

Monarch on milkweed. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Mexico’s highly anticipated annual count of over-wintering monarchs was released Tuesday and showed a slight increase from the prior year, but there’s still a long way to go to ensure the butterfly’s survival, conservationists said.

Have You Been Recycling Plastic Beer Can Carriers? It’s a Waste, But Chicago Breweries Are Tackling the Problem

(Half Acre Beer / Facebook)

Sturdy plastic snap-on can carriers are labeled as 100% recyclable. Which is true, just not when it comes to the single-stream recycling programs favored by cities like Chicago.

Imani, Plover Chick Born to Monty and Rose, Spotted at Montrose Beach

A file photo of a plover parent and chick. (Courtesy of Susan Szeszol)

Imani, born in 2021 to Monty and Rose, has been spotted at Montrose Beach after being sighted last week in Minnesota.

Legacy of Monty and Rose Lives On: 2021 Chick Spotted in Minnesota

Plover parent and chick. (Courtesy of Susan Szeszol)

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: One of Monty and Rose’s 2021 chicks has been positively ID’d on a beach in Duluth, Minnesota.  

Iconic Dinkel’s Neon Sign Set To Hit the Auction Block

(WTTW News)

The 100-year-old bakery closed at the end of April. Fans looking to own a piece of Chicago history can bid on the sign at auction June 3, with proceeds earmarked for charity.

4% of Illinois Land Is Protected. The Goal Is To Conserve 30% by 2030. How?

Just 4% of Illinois is officially protected. Nature preserve status is the highest level of protection available in Illinois. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Illinois has made a commitment to conserve 30% of the state’s land and water resources by the year 2030. What will it take to reach that target?

Skokie Officials Pump Brakes on Carvana Tower After Illinois Suspends Company’s Dealer’s License

A rendering of Carvana’s proposed 14-story tower in Skokie. (Village of Skokie)

Construction of Carvana’s controversial 14-story car vending tower in Skokie, approved just three months ago by the Village Board of Trustees despite widespread community opposition, is now on hold due to the temporary suspension of Carvana’s dealer’s license in Illinois.

Monty the Piping Plover Is Dead, Birding Community Stunned and Mourning

Monty’s legacy will be the chicks he and Rose brought into the world, seen in 2020. (Bob Dolgan)

In a brief announcement on social media, news was shared Friday evening by monitors that Monty the piping plover has died.

This Crayfish Was Rescued During Chicago River Day Cleanup, But in a Major Plot Twist, It’s Invasive

Red swamp crayfish pulled from the Chicago River during May 15 cleanup. (Twitter / @Bates-Jefferys)

In its 30-year history, Friends of the Chicago River’s annual cleanup has evolved from a focus on litter to invasive species. An invasive crayfish pulled from the river over the weekend highlights the work to be done.

Tips for Viewing the Weekend’s Lunar Eclipse: No. 1 — Watch the Forecast

A total lunar eclipse, seen from Joshua Tree National Park in 2015. (Brad Sutton / National Park Service)

After a string of clear, sunny days, rain and clouds are expected to move in for the weekend. Depending on the extent of the cloud cover, the eclipse could still deliver an “ooh-aah” moment, or it could be a womp-womp for Chicago.

Welcome to Flyover Country. Saturday Is Officially Illinois Bird Day

Hundreds of millions of birds are migrating through the U.S. this weekend. (hollandevens / Pixabay)

The timing coincides with the annual World Migratory Bird Day. The best way to celebrate? Dim external lights to help out the millions of migrating birds passing over Cook County.

More Records Could Fall as Summer-Like Heat Grips Chicago Region


The combination of high temperatures and humidity sent heat indices soaring above 100 degrees Wednesday. Thursday will see more of the same.

Attention Green Thumbs: Submissions for Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards Now Open

The Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards honor the city's green thumbs, wherever they garden, whether backyards, parkways, patio containers or urban farms. (Chicago Excellence in Gardening Awards)

Submissions are being accepted through July 1 for the 2022 awards, which will be judged in-person again after going virtual in 2020 and 2021. The contest is open to all Chicago residents; entry is free.

Meet the Lumpsuckers. Shedd’s Newcomer Is a Fish That Can Barely Swim, Is Covered in Teeth

Lumpsuckers at the Shedd Aquarium. (Shedd Aquarium)

The Shedd Aquarium recently welcomed a group of lumpsuckers, a fish that’s weird in so many ways, it’s hard to know where to start.

Chuoy the Buoy Reports for Duty on Lake Michigan, Filling a Chicago-Sized Gap in Monitoring Capabilities

Chuoy the buoy, reporting for data-monitoring duty in Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline. (Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant)

Anchored a mile off Navy Pier, Chuoy the Buoy fills a Chicago-sized gap in shoreline monitoring. Swimmers, boaters, anglers, researchers and meteorologists alike will benefit from data collected close to the city’s lakefront.   

Think Chicago’s Recent Midge Swarms Are Wild? You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet

A midge swarm on Lake Erie. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

Swarms of gnat-sized midges, which look like mini-mosquitoes, minus the bite, have been reported along the Chicago lakefront. But in this case, “swarm” is relative. 

Tornadoes Cap Off an April That Was Colder, Wetter Than Normal in Chicago

(Nikolas Noonan / Unsplash)

April was the rollercoaster ride, weather-wise, Chicagoans have come to expect from spring's most capricious month.

Baby Boom: Bison Calf, Pair of Eaglets Are Chicago Region’s Newest Residents

Bison at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, one of three natural areas in the region where bison have been reintroduced. (USDA Forest Service)

The recent births highlight the success of restoration and conservation efforts in Illinois.

It’s Chicago vs. The World in Weekend’s Global City Nature Challenge ‘Bioblitz’

Prairie trillium was the top observation by Chicagoans in the 2021 City Nature Challenge. (Jessica Bolser / US Fish and Wildlife Service Midwest Region)

The four-day global challenge runs Friday through Monday and encourages people to record their observations of local plants and wildlife in what’s known as a “bioblitz.” Chicago just missed out on a Top 20 finish in 2021.

Urban Orchard, 606 Trail, ‘Wild Mile’ All Set for Open Space Funds, Pending City Council Approval

Floating habitat being positioned on the Chicago River. (Shedd Aquarium / Brenna Hernandez)

A trio of measures introduced at Wednesday’s Chicago City Council meeting would allocate a total of $2.5 million toward habitat and open space improvement projects.

Happy 200th B-Day Frederick Law Olmsted. New Bicentennial Guide Celebrates Wide Influence of Famed Landscape Architect

The Olmsted-designed Jackson Park in Chicago. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

In honor of Frederick Law Olmsted Sr.’s bicentennial, The Cultural Landscape Foundation has released “What’s Out There Olmsted,” a digital guide to hundreds of landscapes designed by Olmsted and his successor firms — a legacy that stretches from coast to coast.

Take Down Bird Feeders, Baths Until Threat of Bird Flu Passes, Illinois Wildlife Officials Say

(Yanna Zissiadou / Unsplash)

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources issued the recommendation Thursday. Their advice is to halt use of bird baths and bird feeders through the end of May.

Cherry Trees Reaching Peak Bloom in Jackson Park

Cherry trees blossoming in Jackson Park. (Chicago Park District)

The cherry tree blossoms in Jackson Park are quickly becoming a beloved springtime tradition in Chicago and they’re about to hit their peak.