Rare Great Lakes Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach

Rose at the Beach, Photo: Tamima Itani

Why Is This Special?

In June, 2019, a pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers began nesting at the Montrose public beach. This is a first for Montrose and an exciting development for this federally endangered species.

Nearly extinct from the Great Lakes region, the pair represents one of approximately 70 Great Lakes Piping Plovers. This is a major milestone in their recovery from a low of just 13 pairs in the early 1980's, when they were declared federally endangered.

Since they are just one of 70 pairs, the 2 Piping Plovers at Montrose Beach are an an extremely rare treat! It’s important to provide them with the space they need to survive, reproduce, nest and raise their young chicks at this special Chicago site.


How Do We Protect Them?

Monty and Rose exchanging nest duties in their protective cage. Photo: Tamima Itani

Great Lakes Piping Plovers are an endangered species and are federally protected by the Endangered Species Act. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) administers the Endangered Species Act, and protects the Montrose Plovers, in collaboration with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR), the Chicago Park District (CPD), and volunteers from Chicago Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, and Illinois Ornithological Society, who have named the pair Monty and Rose.

Working with the CPD, the USFWS and IDNR have roped off the nesting area and have placed a cage around the nest to protect the eggs from predators and other dangers. Rose and Monty can freely move in and out of the protective cage, and they take turns sitting on the nest and eating. This is their 2nd nest this year. The first nest had four eggs. It was under threat from rising water and the eggs were removed for captive-rearing on June 12.

Monty and Rose share Montrose Beach with the many other birds who use it year round, for nesting and breeding in the summer, and/or as an important stopping off point during Spring and Fall migrations.

plover warning.jpg

How You Can Help

  • Keep out of the USFWS roped-off area

  • Keep pets on leashes and out of “No Pets” area on the beach

  • Report any pets off-leash or in restricted areas to local monitors or local law enforcement

  • Clean up any garbage left on the beach

  • Don’t feed gulls, crows, or other wild animals

  • Fly kites and kite-boards away from plover nesting areas

  • Report illegal fireworks at the beach to local monitors or local law enforcement

Sign a petition to Ban Large Concerts at Montrose Beach

Although one of our petition requests has been met - promoters for Mamby on the Beach music festival have cancelled their plans to have 50,000 people at Montrose beach and adjacent park land this August - the Chicago Park District has no policy for what types of events are permissible in the future. Please continue to sign and circulate until this second request also gets a response.

Sign the petition here

About Plovers

Piping Plovers typically lay 4 eggs, which hatch in about 30 days. Chicks can walk and feed soon after hatching but rely on their parents for protection and warmth. After about 30 days, chicks can fly.

  • Great Lakes Piping Plovers (GLPIPLs) are small, slightly larger than a sparrow, but smaller than a robin.

  • GLPIPLs have bands on their legs for identification.

  • GLPIPLs eat insects, spiders, and other small invertebrates.

  • They migrate to warmer areas in late summer and fall (such as Florida and Texas). 

Learn More