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‘Welcome Imani & Siewka’ — Monty and Rose’s surviving piping plover chicks now have names

Chicago residents suggested names for the two chicks and a panel of 10 made the final choice.

A piping plover chick stands in the sand of Montrose Beach.
The two piping plover chicks’ sexes will be known in about a year.
Ann Gunkel/Piping Plover Monitor

No doubt Monty and Rose already know what to call their offspring, but the rest of us needed a little help.

Friday, we got it, thanks to local birding enthusiasts who organized a contest to name the two surviving chicks of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers who returned to nest at Montrose Beach this year.

Say hello to Imani and Siewka.

The names were announced Friday before a crowd at the beach.

Choosing to name the chicks was about “having faith ... there will be a future for Great Lakes piping plovers and that they will no longer be in danger,” said Jeramie Strickland, from the conservation group Openlands. The piping plover is an endangered species, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Imani (it means “faith” in the Swahili language) is the one with the yellow star on its band.

Siewka (pronounced “Shivka,” it’s the Polish word for plover) has a green star on its band.

The name was submitted in honor of Chicago’s large Polish population, said Marissa Rocha, representing the Forest Preserves of Cook County.

Chicago Piping Plovers, the Chicago Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, and the Illinois Ornithological Society organized a Facebook Live event to reveal the names.

This is the third year Monty and Rose have nested and raised chicks at Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area.

Though Friday was a day for celebration, the journey there has been treacherous.

Their nest was attacked by a skunk in June, and four eggs were lost. Then, earlier this month, four new chicks were born, but two are now missing and are presumed dead.

“We don’t know how they died, but when the chicks disperse on the beach, they can be taken by hawks or other bigger birds,” said Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society.

A piping plover chick walks through the grasses of Montrose Beach.
Two of Monty and Rose’s four chicks survived after hatching in early July.
Ann Gunkel/Piping Plover Monitor

The 10-person selection panel composed of bird society members received about 400 suggested names, according to Itani.

A survey was sent around the city for residents to submit names this summer.

Itani said the name selection process was based on Monty and Rose’s story of resilience and finding names that represent the city’s diversity. Last year, one of the couple’s chicks was named Nish, inspired by the Potawatomi, a Native American tribe indigenous to the Great Lakes region.

Maxima Gomez-Palmer, a 16-year-old Chicago Ornithological Society member from Tinley Park, was the youngest on this year’s naming panel. She helped sift through hundreds of submissions before landing on the two.

Piping plover mates Rose (left) and Monty walk near the area sectioned off for the endangered species on Montrose Beach on the North Side, Wednesday morning, April 28, 2021.
Piping plover mates Rose (left) and Monty on Montrose Beach earlier this year.
Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

“We thought the name should reflect Chicago culture and heritage. We had one (name) that was ‘Deep Dish,’ but it didn’t reflect culture,” Gomez-Palmer said, laughing.

Nish, from last year’s chicks, traveled to Ohio, which Itani says her organization is particularly proud of.

“We have an ambassador from Chicago in Ohio now,” Itani said. “This is great for the Great Lakes piping plover population in general.”

With Siewka and Imani joining the family, the city has two more fluffy birds to fawn over.

“Chicago has been absolutely fantastic in their support of Monty and Rose,” Itani said.