“He was the King of Montrose”

“He was the King of Montrose”

CHICAGO — Monty, half of the beloved Piping Plover duo who stole Chicago’s heart and made Montrose Beach their home, has died, birders said.

Monty died on Friday. A bird watcher on the beach saw Monty breathing heavily; He got up, took a few steps and collapsed, said Tamima Itani, a bird watcher who has been active in protecting Monty and his mate Rose.

Monty’s body was taken to the Lincoln Park Zoo to determine what happened to him, Itani said. There will be a memorial service in his honor, but the details are yet to be determined. Monty and Rose fans can follow Great Lakes Piping Plover group on social media for news about the memorial.

“You know how dear he was to all of us,” Itani said through tears on Friday. Monitors gathered on Montrose beach, “just wanting to be where he was”.

Recognition: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Monty, the popular plover, was spotted on April 23, 2022 at Montrose Beach in Uptown.

Monty hatched in June 2017, so he was almost 5 years old, Itani said. Plovers typically live for about 5 years, Itani said, although she’s seen some live as long as 16 years.

Itani said she’s also becoming less optimistic that Rose, Monty’s longtime girlfriend, will return to the beach this year. Monty returned on April 21 after spending the winter in Texas, but birders have yet to see Rose in Chicago.

“Povers are still coming back from the Great Lakes, but it’s getting late,” Itani said. “I’m afraid – I don’t know at this point; It’s difficult to say.”

Monty and Rose stole Chicago’s heart when they first nested on Montrose Beach in 2019, becoming the first Great Lakes plovers to nest in the city since the ’50s. They returned in 2020 and 2021 to raise chicks.

The town gathered around the plovers. A music festival scheduled to take place on Montrose Beach in 2019 has been canceled to ensure the birds are protected. Bird watchers would regularly watch over Monty and Rose on the beach, trying to make sure their eggs weren’t eaten by other creatures.

Monty and Rose have successfully raised several chick chicks on the beach; at least one has settled nearby – in Ohio – and found a mate.

Recognition: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Monty, the popular plover, was spotted on April 23, 2022 at Montrose Beach in Uptown.

“These are very rare birds,” Itani said. “We don’t have the opportunity to see many of them. And then they have such cute personalities, just how they walk and behave.”

People who stopped at Montrose would glow when they saw Monty, Rose and their chicks, Itani said.

“You just have a really sweet personality,” Itani said. “Monty had so much – he had so much character. He was used to busy beaches and navigated them very well. Sometimes he would literally come and land on the wall not too far from us and show off.

“It was like he was the King of Montrose. He just had so much personality.”

Documentaries and books have been made about the birds, and people have gathered on the beach to watch them – although bird watchers have endeavored to keep people at a distance so the birds are safe and not stressed.

“I think it’s definitely an underdog story,” said Bob Dolgan, a bird watcher who made a documentary about the duo, in April. “It’s a lovely story. They are incredibly charismatic birds. They’re stubborn, in their own way. Monty’s a really nice dad; Rose is a really tough mom. And I think people just jumped into it because it’s just such a unique story.”

Recognition: Mike Roche/Provided
Monty the Great Lakes Piping Plover walks along Montrose Beach on April 23, 2022.

Chicagoans called the news of Monty’s death devastating and offered their condolences to the bird watchers who have been watching over the plovers passionately.

“No exaggeration this is devastating,” one person wrote on Twitter. “These birds gave a face to local environmental issues and really changed the way people in Chicago viewed our beaches and how they should be treated. One can only hope that we will be lucky enough to see a plover again soon.”

It’s possible Chicago will see other Great Lakes plovers, Itani said. The city gets two to three more plovers who pass by the area each year, she said.

“Of course we hope that other plovers will come and colonize a nest,” Itani said.

Those who want to honor Monty’s life can donate to the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Program, Itani said. Donations can be made online.

Recognition: Chicago Park District/Tony Troche
The famous plovers Monty and Rose at Montrose Beach.

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