Rose the piping plover still nowhere to be found

Monty has been in Chicago for a while, but former nesting mate Rose hasn’t arrived. Still, “we aren’t going to make any assumptions at the moment,” said Armand Cann, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

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Piping plover Monty walks near the area sectioned off for the endangered species on Montrose Beach on the North Side, Wednesday morning, April 28, 2021.

Piping plover Monty walks near the area sectioned off for the endangered species on Montrose Beach in April 2021.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Monty the piping plover arrived at Montrose Beach on April 21 — but nearly three weeks later, his mate Rose is still nowhere to be found.

The beloved pair have nested on that beach every year since 2019, watched closely by Chicago-area birders.

Last summer, the birds laid eggs and hatched four chicks — though only two, Imani and Siewka, survived. The other two went missing and are presumed dead.

But no one has seen Rose for a couple of months now, Chicago Ornithological Society President Edward Warden said. Rose normally winters in Anclote Key, Florida.

“It’s tough because we’ve been a little bit spoiled in previous years,” Warden said. “She and Monty have shown up pretty close together in the past two years, and then come into this year, with them not showing up anywhere near each other, just is making people anxious.”

Warden remains optimistic.

For the past few weeks, wind and weather patterns have not been favorable for Rose to travel from Florida to Chicago, he said.

But those winds from the south and west were great for Monty, who winters in Texas and was able to ride them all the way to Chicago.

Piping plover mates Rose (left) and Monty, pictured on Montrose Beach in April 2021.

Piping plover mates Rose (left) and Monty on Montrose Beach in April 2021.

Ashlee Rezin/Sun-Times

Birds facing unfavorable winds, Warden said, might decide to put things off.

“So it’s not just them as plovers, but birds in general have been kind of waiting a little bit with their migration” because conditions haven’t been great, Warden said.

Monday, Warden said, those patterns started to change — and Chicago saw a ton of birds coming through the area.

Although just speculation, Warden said, those changes might help Rose start moving, too.

Armand Cann, a biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, also remains hopeful about Rose’s return. It’s not unusual for the timing of birds’ arrival to vary, he said. Still, if Rose doesn’t show up in the next two weeks, he may begin to worry that something happened to her. And if she isn’t spotted by the end of the breeding season, around August, he may wonder if she made it through the winter.

“We aren’t going to make any assumptions, at the moment,” he said. “As far as we know, she’s still down in Florida.”

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