Nesting Great Lakes Piping Plovers

Please read and sign the petition to ban large concerts at Montrose Beach

Read about the importance of the Piping Plovers

June 24, 2019 Update

Monty and Rose laid a third egg, and possibly a fourth. USFWS and IDNR have placed a protective cage around their nest. Monty and Rose can move freely in and out of the cage, and take turns incubating the eggs by laying on them, and feeding.

June 21, 2019 Update

Rose and Monty have established a new nest and have laid 2 new eggs!

An information “fact sheet” has been created with key information about this important event (PDF).

June 19, 2019 update

The 2 Great Lakes Piping Plovers, Rose and Monty, are attempting to re-nest on higher ground at Montrose Beach.

In response to a planned large concert (Mamby) at Montrose Beach in August, Chicago Ornithological Society and Chicago Audubon Society have created a petition to request that the Chicago Park District find another location for the Mamby concert and convene a group of stakeholders to develop a policy about appropriate uses for Montrose Beach, natural areas, and the nearby recreational area.

Please read and sign the petition.

June 18, 2019 update

On 6/12/19, biologists with USFWS (United States Fish and Wildlife Service) and IDNR (Illinois Department of Natural Resources) made the difficult decision to collect the 4 Great Lakes Piping Plover eggs, to protect them from predicted storms and strong northerly winds. During the night, the beach where the nest and eggs were located became completely submerged in water, so this decision was a good one, helping greatly to save this federally endangered species. The eggs were initially incubated at Lincoln Park Zoo, and in partnership with the Detroit Zoo’s captive rearing program, are now safely incubating at the University of Michigan Biological Station in Pellston, Michigan. 

4 Great Lakes Piping Plover eggs incubating at Lincoln Park Zoo

4 Great Lakes Piping Plover eggs incubating at Lincoln Park Zoo

 Similarly, last year, Monty and Rose's eggs were collected in Waukegan, and produced a healthy chick that successfully migrated and was spotted at Silver Lake State Park in Michigan this spring.

Piping Plovers will often produce a second clutch, and the USFWS, the IDNR, and volunteers will continue to monitor the birds, leaving the roped area in place. Monty and Rose were observed engaging in courtship behaviors after egg collection, so we are hopeful for more eggs to help grow this endangered population of Piping Plovers.

Read more about Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation.

June 8, 2019. A pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers are at the Montrose public beach in the early process of nesting.  This is a first for Montrose and an exciting development for this federally endangered species. They represent one of just 70 or so breeding pairs of these birds. Perilously close to extinction in the region, this is a major milestone in their recovery from 13 pairs in the early 1980's.

An area has been roped off to protect the nesting location. 

Chicago Audubon Society (CAS), along with sister organizations Chicago Ornithological Society (COS) and Illinois Ornithological Society (IOS), is making a call for volunteer monitors to enhance nesting chances of success, given that this is a busy location.. Monitoring efforts are being coordinated with the US Fish and Wildlife Service (USF&W) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR) to provide daily dawn-to-dusk nest monitors through mid-August.

Volunteers Needed

If you have even just a few hours to spare, please send an email to piperwatch@chicagobirder.org. You will be contacted by a volunteer coordinator who will provide more details.

The monitoring activities consist of the following:

  • observing the two Piping Plovers and their nest from a distance (at least 40 -50 ft), making note of when courtship and mating take place and where (by a nest?  which one?)

  • Contacting IDNR and USF&W when the first egg is laid

  • if beachgoers appear to want to go in the roped off area, asking them nicely but firmly not to do so

  • If there is an off-leash dog on the beach that is getting close to the roped-off area, alerting the owner that the dog needs to be leashed, and/or calling security

  • otherwise enjoying the plovers' wonderful little personalities and courtship display.

This species nearly vanished from our shores. Thanks to the tireless efforts of the site stewards, the Chicago Park District, the above-mentioned agencies and the entire birding community we now might be able to enjoy these birds in greater numbers than ever imagined.

Photo by Tamima Itani. She and Leslie Borns along with our friends at COS have done a phenomenal job of getting this protection effort going.

For anyone who is not able to commit to 2 hrs but is able to drop by for an hour to keep the primary monitor company,  this is welcome, as evenings and week-ends will be busy and additional presence is helpful.