Of a Feather

173 total words    

1 minutes of reading

They picked the beach equivalent of Times Square to mate and create a family.

With their inner pluck and some close monitoring from committed volunteers, two federally endangered Great Lakes piping plovers succeeded against all odds. At Montrose Beach in summer 2019, the parents (Monty and Rose) raised two healthy chicks, Chicago’s first fledged pair since 1955.

Piping Plover Chick at Montrose Beach, 2019, by Ann Hetzel Gunkel

The village it took for this happy outcome included over 185 volunteers and a cooperative effort among a number of environmental agencies and organizations.* It was all hands on deck for several months while the plovers and monitors dealt with errant volleyballs, off-leash dogs, fireworks, beach flooding, and predatory birds—with the frenzy of the Air and Water Show thrown in for good measure.

The birding community hopes to see Chicago’s own piping plovers return next year. For all involved, the word that captures our shared moment is privilege—it was a privilege to witness and root for the hard work of “being bird” in an often harsh environment. We were all in, birds and humans flocking together.

 *Chicago Ornithological Society, Illinois Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, Chicago Park District and their volunteer stewards, Illinois Department of Natural Resources, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, U.S.D.A. Wildlife Services, Montrose Lakefront Coalition, Chicago Police Department, and Lincoln Park Zoo.

Image credit:
Piping Plover Chick at Montrose Beach, 2019, by Ann Hetzel Gunkel

  • Angela Just

    Angela Just writes of nature and its people from an apartment above the lake and trees in Chicago’s Edgewater neighborhood. Her chapbook “Everything I Own” was published in 2016 by Porkbelly Press. Her poems appear in Bird’s Thumb, Flyway, Free Lunch, After Hours, MAKE, Seeding the Snow, and other journals. Fifth Wednesday Journal has featured her photography.
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