Imani — Monty and Rose’s 2021 chick — spotted at Montrose Beach
This is the first time a chick hatched in Chicago has come back, said Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society.
Another piping plover has arrived on Montrose Beach.
But it isn’t Chicago’s beloved Monty or Rose.
It’s their offspring, Imani, who was hatched at Montrose in 2021, after Rose laid four eggs. Imani was one of just two chicks that survived after the others went missing and were presumed dead. He was sighted Monday.
Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society, said this is the first time that a chick hatched in Chicago has come back.
“I just think it’s very exciting,” Itani said, who spotted Imani at Montrose. “It didn’t actually hit me until I was leaving the beach that, oh my goodness, we haven’t had that happen before.”
He was last seen in Duluth, Minnesota, on May 16, a sighting confirmed last week.
Is this just a stopover? Will he stay and nest?
These are questions experts can’t know for certain yet, said Armand Cann, biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
“We can’t tell what a bird will and will not do just from occurrences like this,” Cann said. “It has to be longstanding observations that we are waiting for.”
There’s no ecological explanation for why Imani flew up North and then headed back South, Cann said. It may simply be that Montrose is a habitat that feels familiar, he said.
Itani said she thinks Imani may only stay if he can find a mate.
“If a mate doesn’t show up, my thinking is that he’ll probably keep traveling to a location where he finds a mate and can nest,” Itani said.
Regardless, Imani’s spotting is good news for piping plover supporters in Chicago. Montrose Beach has remained empty for over a week, after Monty died on May 13. He had arrived April 21.
His mate, Rose, who in past years has arrived at a similar time to Monty, is still nowhere to be found.
Itani said Imani seems to remember the Montrose Beach and the spots he liked when he was a chick.
“He used to feed with Monty by the volleyball court,” Itani said, “and he was seen feeding there this afternoon.”
And Imani has passed a critical point of being a first-year plover, Cann said.
“The fact that he survived his first season, being a new bird, means that he was able to learn what he needed to learn in order to survive,” Cann said. “Birds who have survived the first year are more likely to return because of their experience.
Cann said young plovers have to learn to feed themselves, to avoid predators and to defend themselves. Itani said many chicks are lost on the first trip to their wintering grounds because they are not experienced enough yet to know how to avoid predators along the way.
The Chicago Piping Plovers group urged their followers in a tweet to “please remember to give Imani his space” if they visit Montrose Beach.