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Egg-citing news: Piping plover egg discovered on Chicago beach

Egg-celent news: Piping plover egg discovered on Chicago beach
Egg-celent news: Piping plover egg discovered on Chicago beach 00:33

CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago bird fans are flying high with the egg-cellent news that the city's piping plovers are growing their family.

The Chicago Park District and the volunteer group Chicago Piping Plovers announced that a new egg is in the protected area at Montrose Beach Dunes.

Chicago Park District

It was spotted near the newly named Monty and Rose Wildlife Habitat. In recent weeks, there have been sightings between the native-born piping plover Imani, who was hatched in 2021, and Searocket, who, according to the Chicago Park District, is "one of the five-week-old captive-raised piping plover chicks released back into the wild at Montrose in July 2023."

They said it's the first time piping plovers have been released outside Michigan for a recovery goal of 50 pairs.

Chicago Park District

The Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and U.S. Department of Agriculture are also helping maintain the endangered bird's delicate habitat.    

According to the park district, the chicks would return to Montrose Beach Dunes to nest in a successful scenario and that "documented migration suggests that captive-reared chicks are more likely to return to their release beach the following spring. The experiment worked, and Chicago is awaiting the arrival of a new chick within a month."

The Chicago Park District said it will work with partners to monitor fenced areas near their nest "to ward off and deter predators from approaching."

Staff and volunteers watching the area will wear what's described as "highly visible gear" when they're inside it. 

"The Chicago Park District is excited about the possibility of new hatchlings at the newly named Monty and Rose Wildlife Habitat," said Matthew Freer, Chicago Park District Assistant Director of Landscape, Natural Resources, and Cultural Resources. "The arrival of this endangered species has birthed a new generation of advocates for the conservation of urban natural settings, including beaches, that are home to many migrating shorebirds. These tiny birds have had a massive impact on policies and practices that aim to improve their species' survival."

Chicago Park District

People can help keep the egg and nest safe from harm by what the park district describes as "respecting closed area boundaries, keeping dogs on leashes, and taking trash with them at the end of their beach visit." 

"This grand experiment in trying to recover the iconic symbol of the Great Lakes shoreline has come full circle with the return of both wild hatched and captive-reared young," said Brad Semel, Illinois Department of Natural Resources Endangered Species Recovery Specialist. "It has been a real privilege to work with the Great Lakes Piping Plover Conservation Team and to see their years of their dedicated efforts reach the shores of Illinois. It gives a real sense of hope whenever we see a success story such as this impacting our natural world."

Piping plovers disappeared from Illinois beaches around 1955. However, their population numbers began to go up, and they were seen nesting in the state about 60 years later, in 2015. 

The Chicago Park District said it was in 2019 that Montrose Beach fledged chicks. 

"We are grateful to the Chicago Park District and all the partner agencies we work with for sparing no effort to make the Montrose Beach Dunes a nesting location for the endangered Piping Plovers, as well as other shorebird species, "said Tamima Itani, volunteer for the Chicago Piping Plover volunteer group.

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