Newly hatched piping plover chick presumed dead at Montrose Beach. ‘Much loved and will be missed’

Three chicks were confirmed at the nest of piping plovers Imani and Sea Rocket, but the fourth chick was missing under ‘unknown circumstances,’ the Chicago Piping Plovers group said.

SHARE Newly hatched piping plover chick presumed dead at Montrose Beach. ‘Much loved and will be missed’
A piping plover chick stands next to its mother, Sea Rocket, on sand with sparse vegetation around them.

Sea Rocket, the female piping plover at Montrose Beach, stands with one of her chicks Wednesday. One of the four recent hatchlings is presumed dead.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Days before it was to be given a name, one of the four piping plover chicks at Montrose Beach was presumed dead Wednesday.

Three chicks were confirmed at the nest of piping plovers Imani and Sea Rocket, but the fourth chick was missing under “unknown circumstances,” according to the Chicago Piping Plovers, a volunteer organization dedicated to protecting the endangered birds.

“While not a pet, this piping plover chick was much loved and will be missed. This piping plover chick will be remembered,” the organization said in a statement.

The chick went missing after 6 p.m. Tuesday and was presumed dead, “as it cannot survive away from its parents,” said Tamima Itani, lead volunteer coordinator with Chicago Piping Plovers. The other three chicks “are doing fine,” she added.

A piping plover chick nestles under its mother along with an egg as they're surrounded by protective wire fencing.

A piping plover chick hatched July 1 at Montrose Beach Dunes. Three chicks hatched June 30.

Chicago Piping Plover

Imani’s and Sea Rocket’s four eggs hatched June 30 and July 1, about a month after their first egg was found in a protected area of Montrose Beach.

The chicks cannot be told apart, and their genders won’t known until they return in the spring, Itani said.

The Chicago Bird Alliance is having a naming contest for the new chicks. Name proposals are being accepted through Thursday on Chicago Piping Plovers’ social media platforms.

Imani was hatched at Montrose Beach in 2021 to piping plovers Monty and Rose. Sea Rocket was a captive-reared chick released at the beach in July 2023.

Montrose Beach became a protected sanctuary in 2019, the same year the first piping plover chicks hatched in Illinois since they disappeared across the state in 1955.

The Great Lakes population of piping plovers is considered endangered. According to the U.S. National Park Service, there are currently 75 to 80 nesting pairs in the Great Lakes area.

“Their numbers dropped to between 12 and 17 breeding pairs in the 1980s,” Itani said. “Strong measures were put in place to help with the recovery.”

The piping plovers’ disappearance and decline has been attributed to nest disturbance, predation and habitat deterioration, according to Great Lakes Piping Plovers.

To keep nests safe, people are asked to respect the closed-area boundaries, keep dogs on leashes and take trash with them.

A piping plover chick stands facing right with its legs straight on the sand at Montrose Beach.

A piping plover chick at Montrose Beach on Wednesday. Four chicks hatched in the last two weeks, but one was reported missing.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

A piping plover chick nestles its head under its mother Sea Rocket's chest.

A chick nestles with Sea Rocket, the female piping plover at Montrose Beach, on Wednesday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

An adult piping plover looks like it has many legs as chicks hide under its chest as they stand on sand surrounded by green leaves at Montrose Beach.

Chicks nestle with an adult piping plover at Montrose Beach on Wednesday.

Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere/Sun-Times

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