Piping plover grandchild of Monty and Rose hatches at Montrose Beach

A piping plover chick hatched Sunday at Montrose Beach, marking a milestone in conservation efforts to restore the endangered shorebird species in the Great Lakes region.

This was the first egg to hatch of four laid by piping plover Searocket, who was captive-reared and released in the wild at Montrose Beach last summer, according to a Chicago Park District news release.

The other three eggs are expected to hatch soon, following a roughly monthlong incubation period, the release said.

The eggs were a product of a recent pairing between Searocket and native-born piping plover Imani, who hatched at Montrose in 2021.

“The experiment worked!” the news release said. “Searocket returned to mate with Imani, and to start their new brood.”

The Park District and its conservation partners will monitor a protected fence near the nest to ward off and deter predators.

“We ask that patrons help keep the newly hatched chick, the nest and remaining eggs safe by respecting closed area boundaries, keeping dogs on leashes and taking trash with them at the end of their beach visit,” the news release said.

Imani was born in the wild at Montrose Beach to the plover pair Monty and Rose, who garnered local fame several years ago. Monty died at Montrose Beach in 2022 waiting on Rose to return from a Florida where she wintered.

Piping plovers in Chicago: How the ‘love story’ between Monty and Rose unfolded at Montrose Beach

A few days ago, three of four piping plover eggs also hatched on the Waukegan lakeshore, to parents Blaze and Pepper, according to the Lake County Audubon Society.

“Monitors were on the beach and witnessed each new hatchling peek out from beneath the adult’s plumage,” the Lake County Audubon Society said in a Facebook post. “The chicks face an uphill battle for survival, but we remain cautiously optimistic that they will survive the next few weeks before beginning their first migration to wintering grounds.”

Around 500 to 800 piping plover pairs once nested each year across the Great Lakes, yet by the 1980s that number had dwindled to roughly a dozen pairs and the bird was put on the federal endangered species list.

All the recent hatchlings have made history: Captive-reared plovers had never laid eggs in Illinois before, though they had done so in Michigan, according to endangered species recovery specialists.

Blaze, Pepper and Searocket were hatched in a captive-rearing facility in Michigan and were released near Montrose Beach and Illinois Beach State Park in Zion in 2023, to encourage population growth across the Great Lakes region.

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