Rose and Monty, the piping plover pair who became famous in Chicago after mating on one of the city’s crowded beaches, are growing their brace.
The endangered birds have produced four eggs at their breeding grounds at Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area on Chicago’s North Side.
A wire enclosure protects the nest and eggs from predators. Monty and Rose can freely enter and exit to take turns incubating their eggs.
“In some ways it’s better for them to stay on the nest so that the other birds cannot get to the eggs,” said Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society.
Itani and other volunteers have been monitoring the nest from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. They keep watch over the eggs in two-hour shifts and make sure visitors don’t get too close, which threatens the plovers and can interrupt them from sitting on the nest.
In early April, the Chicago Park District expanded the Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area an additional 3.1 acres to provide more permanent protection for the piping plovers and other endangered wildlife. The natural area is a prime bird watching spot covered daily by birders.
There are about 70 breeding pairs of plovers in the Great Lakes area, officials said.
This is the third year the pair has nested on Montrose Beach Dunes.
Rose spent the winter in Florida, while Monty was in Texas. They were spotted back in Chicago toward the end of April, arriving one day apart.
The pair had three chicks last June. The chicks’ names — Hazel, Esperanza and Nish — were suggested by the public and selected by a panel of members from local nature and environmental organizations.
Anticipating four chicks this year, another naming contest is being held. The community is encouraged to submit names that reflect Chicago’s heritage, culture and diversity. Submissions will be accepted until May 31 at https://www.chicagopipingplovers.org.