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Nearly-extinct piping plover spotted on Chicago beach

Piping plover, Sea Rocket, returns to Montrose Beach
Piping plover, Sea Rocket, returns to Montrose Beach 00:54

CHICAGO (CBS) — Another piping plover, believed to be female whose name is Sea Rocket, returned to Montrose Beach on Wednesday, giving observers hope that there might be a love connection in the works.

Sea Rocket was a captive-reared chick that was released in Chicago last year along with two other plovers, Wild Indigo and Prickly Pear. Piping plovers are thought to be nearly extinct.

When the plover left, a fishing line was tangled on its foot. Bird watchers confirmed that the line was gone, and the birds' feet appeared fine.

If Sea Rocket is female, the hope is that it mates with another plover.

Sea Rocket has been hanging out with Imani, who is a male and has yet to find a mate.

Imani returned to the beach last month for the third straight year. His parents, Monty and Rose, captured the hearts of Chicagoans in 2019 and again during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The piping plover was placed on the Federal Endangered Species list almost four decades ago, in 1986. There must be at least 150 breeding pairs not to be considered endangered. In comparison, in 1990, there were only 13 pairs, but that number has made gains in recent years. Habitat loss from human development, predation, and climate change are all listed as contributing causes to their species' decline.

Piping plovers are considered to be a significant part of Illinois and the Great Lake's biodiversity. The birds also offer insight into the condition of an ecosystem for scientists, a study by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln argued.

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