Piping plovers Monty and Rose get another chance to expand their flock this year.
The endangered couple have re-nested and produced an egg at the Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area after they lost four eggs to a skunk attack last week.
Brad Semel, an endangered species recovery specialist with the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, said they are hoping for another complete clutch of four eggs.
Though the plovers were not harmed, a skunk reached into a break in the protective wire fence surrounding the nest. Within hours however, bird-watchers had already spotted the plovers courting and scraping a new nest.
A team dedicated to protecting the plovers have installed surveillance cameras and new wire fencing around the nest.
Semel said the exclosure is slightly larger than the previous one, with larger gauge wire to make sure mammalian predators can’t break the welding or reach the nest even if it happened to break again.
Volunteers will continue to monitor the plovers from sunrise to sunset daily, Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society, wrote in a new blog post on chicagopipingplovers.org, a website that gives updates on the plovers’ well-being and whereabouts.
There will be additional shifts depending on weekends, special events and holidays, Semel said.
In April, the Chicago Park Distract 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.
There are 72 known pairs and 64 active nests for the Great Lakes piping plover, Semel said. These birds nest only on wide, sandy beaches of the Great Lakes region that includes Illinois, seven other states and Ontario, Canada.
“Receding lake levels have created more nesting areas and conservationists hope this year will help stabilize the population that has been in decline the past two years,” Semel said.