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

Wildlife officials are reporting that the season’s first Great Lakes piping plover, known as YibBee, has returned to his breeding grounds at Sleeping Bear Dunes. Will arrivals in Chicago be far behind?

A memorial for Monty and Rose, held in 2022, at the site now named in their honor. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

The Park District Board of Commissioners voted Wednesday to rename the plovers’ Montrose Beach meeting spot the Monty and Rose Wildlife Habitat.

Armand Cann, fish and wildlife biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, left, and Brad Semel, engaged species recovery specialist for the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, walk along a protected site at Montrose Beach ahead of the release of three plovers on July 12, 2023. (Eunice Alpasan / WTTW News)

Three endangered piping plover chicks were released into the wild Wednesday at a protected site at Montrose Beach in an effort to aid in its species recovery. It marks the first time plovers have been released in the state.

Imani, photographed in April 2023 at Montrose Beach. (Courtesy of Tamima Itani)

Piping plovers might not be on the nest in Chicago this year, but 2023 is shaping up as a banner breeding year for the birds across the Great Lakes.

This photo provided by Joey Santore shows a snapping turtle relaxing along a Chicago River. Footage of the plump snapping turtle relaxing along a Chicago waterway has gone viral after Santore, who filmed the well-fed reptile, marveled at its size and nicknamed it “Chonkosaurus.” (Joey Santore via AP)

The giant snapping turtle spotted in the Chicago River became a viral sensation this week. But the river is home to lots of wildlife, thanks to ongoing efforts to clean up the waterway.

Imani, photographed in April 2023 at Montrose Beach. (Courtesy of Tamima Itani)

The two unidentified plovers — one male, one female — that had joined Imani at Montrose have flown the coop, temporarily dashing the hopes of plover monitors for a love match and successful nesting season in Chicago.

Recent vandalism at LaBagh Woods. Fencing designed to protect native shrubs from deer was torn apart. (Chicago Ornithological Society / Twitter)

A mystery vandal is once again undoing ecological restoration work at LaBagh Woods.

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

There’s a love triangle brewing at Montrose Beach, where Imani the piping plover has been joined by a mystery bachelor and … a female.

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

Chicago’s birders are celebrating the arrival of Imani at Montrose Beach. The piping plover is a 2021 chick of Monty and Rose.

Monty and Rose, memorialized in limestone rock along Chicago's lakefront. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)
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The beloved duo live on in limestone, their instantly recognizable images carved into a block of the rock wall that separates the dunes from an adjacent paved path. They now join the thousands of modern-day “petroglyphs” that date back to at least the 1930s.

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

The 2022 season may have been heartbreaking for Chicago’s piping plover lovers (RIP, Monty and Rose), but the news from across the Great Lakes was among the most encouraging in decades when it comes to the endangered shorebirds.

Supporters of Montrose Dunes Natural Area say the site looks neglected, with invasive species taking hold. (Patty Wetli / WTTW News)

Some people are concerned about what they say are deteriorating conditions at the high-quality habitat where the endangered plovers Monty and Rose raised their three successive broods of chicks between 2019 and 2021. 

Monty in the foreground, Rose in the rear. (Credit: Ann Gunkle)

The beloved piping plover, dubbed the king of Montrose Beach, died May 13. Monty first captured Chicagoans’ hearts in 2019 when he and his mate, Rose, became the first pair of endangered Great Lakes piping plovers to nest in the city since the 1950s

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.

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.

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.