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Piping plover pair Monty and Rose’s nest attacked, eggs eaten by a skunk

The endangered plovers were not harmed when the skunk reached into the wire enclosure.

Monty, a piping plover, in a protective wired enclosure put up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to protect the nest from predators. 
Monty, a piping plover, in a wire enclosure put up by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services to protect the nest from predators. 
Ashlee Rezin Garcia/Sun-Times file

Piping plover pair Monty and Rose’s nest was attacked by a skunk Wednesday night at Montrose Beach Dunes.

Though the plovers were not harmed, the skunk reached into the protective wire enclosure surrounding the nest and ate all four of the plovers’ eggs.

The endangered birds reunited in Chicago at the end of April and produced four eggs at their breeding grounds in May at Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area on Chicago’s North Side.

“But Monty and Rose are resilient,” wrote Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society, in a new blog post on chicagopipingplovers.org, a website dedicated to providing information and updates about the plovers’ well-being and whereabouts.

Two bird-watchers have already spotted the plovers courting and scraping a nest Thursday morning, according to the blog post.

“It’s sort of a learning step for folks to recognize that this is life, and this is why birds are endangered. They have an awful lot of threats,” said Brad Semel, an endangered species recovery specialist.

“The word goes out to these birders and these bird clubs who have just done a tremendous job in keeping the dogs off and keeping people off. But it’s still the natural world here, and things like that can happen but we’ll do our best next time around to do even better. We’re very hopeful that they will re-nest and be successful,” he said.

This is not the first time the plovers and their eggs were threatened.

In the early-morning hours of May 17, surveillance cameras installed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture captured photos of a balloon caught against the wired protective enclosure around the nest.

Balloons can interrupt the plovers from incubating the eggs.

Louise Clemency, field supervisor for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Chicago office, rushed to the site at 4:30 a.m. and disposed of the balloon.

The pair lost a nest to flooding in June 2019 but produced a second nest and an egg five days later.

Itani and other volunteers will continue to monitor the plovers in two-hour shifts from 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. They plan to keep a lookout for where Monty and Rose might choose to nest again.

If they do, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will put in place a larger wired enclosure to protect that new nest from predators, Itani wrote.