Most all of the Plover Watch volunteers knew that even one summer with Piping Plovers Monty and Rose was an experience that might never happen again. The fleeting nature of it--a species down to only 70 pairs nesting on the busiest beach in Chicago--was why it was so special. The birds’ presence became something that thousands of people rallied around and introduced untold numbers of people to Piping Plovers and birding.
Here’s a clip from “Monty and Rose 2.” This was from 2019, before Monty was a household name, before we knew what would happen in the years to follow. This is the kind of thing Monty did routinely, and I hope to see a Piping Plover chasing off predators in Chicago someday again.
The reactions to Monty's passing have been the most positive thing to come out of the last few days. Here's a sampling of comments from Twitter and Facebook on what Monty meant to people. These sum things up better than I ever could myself.
He was truly a living symbol of the city motto, “urbs in orto.” Nature is everywhere, even in cities, and protecting and cultivating it makes a big difference—even when it’s just two birds.
When anything is vulnerable, we all are. Protecting them protected so much more. It’s a lesson I hope we never forget that applies to nature, animals and each other.
It's THAT Chicago rallied to keep these rare birds safe. Chicago listened to scientists and birders and did everything to keep these sweet birds safe. To be as cheesy as possible, it showed me what Chicago is capable of.
Hope. Joy. A lot of joy. A brighter future.
Proof that ordinary individuals change outcomes.
And as others have mentioned, a few plover-colored specks of light set against a vast, black void.
I worked at Kayak Chicago at Montrose the year he arrived and we’d get to see him everyday. By the end of the summer he felt like a close friend. Every morning we were some of the first ones on the beach & we’d watch him as we set up our boats. Everyone was delighted to see him.
A sign of hope in community. That for just once in our lives we’ll do whatever it takes to let this adorable species live on.
Adoration for the pair reached far beyond Chicago. I shared Monty, Rose + baby chicks updates with family and friends across the country who came to love them as much as I did. Their story was a little piece of goodness during some really dark times.
I was astonished that the city bent over backwards to do whatever necessary to keep Monty and Rose and their eggs and chicks safe--even once
Monty & Rose got many more people interested in birds & in the lakeshore as a home for nature. Early battles over volleyball etc replaced by growing enthusiasm. The volunteers have been great advocates & educators (especially Tamima Itani). Thank you to Monty
I love our big, noisy, boisterous city. It’s also nice to know that peaceful nature is alive and well —it amazed me that they could bless us with their special uniqueness right next to all the craziness. Our city never fails to surprise, in a good way. They united us.
And this from Kelly Rauch in a post on Chicago Audubon’s Facebook page:
I feel strongly that the death of these birds have affected everyone on a much deeper level in that they represented hope. Any true birder and lover of nature and all the world's creatures, is truly fighting an upward battle in the fight against climate change, and our environment suffering constant blows with several species of animals being on the brink of extinction. These little beings for a short time gave people great hope that if they survived, they could be restored to a better numbers. I am hoping that everyone continues to do their part and fight for our planet and all that live on it through this experience even though the outcome was dire. It is very sad but personally it makes me stronger and wanting to do more. So be bummed and carry on and do more or at least what you can and continue to fight. ( I hope this doesn't sound preachy, I am hoping to uplift and inspire anyone that might feel like it is hopeless because I sure did feel that way when I heard about this).
Patricia A. Martinez:
Every time I go to the Montrose Bird Sanctuary, I am impressed by the number of people there, pointing their eyes, their cameras and binoculars up at the trees. These birdwatchers excitedly share sightings and information, amateur and the most knowledgeable as well. All touched by these tiny, beautiful creatures. At that point I wish I could bottle their emotions and spread them across the world, that all people could share the love.
Debbie Pratscher Lamoureux:
It really brings it home how many perils these little birds face, and not all of them from predators, that they were so closely watched and yet... and Rose's fate is unknown. We were lucky to have them even for a short time.
Nest in Peace little guy. You and Rose gave Chicago three glorious years that we will NEVER forget. See you and Rose on the other side.
Sharon A. Walker:
In his honor may the conservation efforts continue & grow. An offspring would be brilliant.
He was such a good husband and father. He was willing to fight anything to protect his nest. He tried to fight ME when I got close to his nest to retrieve a volleyball. I will miss him so much.
This really is the worst news. I am crying here, so I cannot imagine the sorrow all the volunteers who protected Monty and Rose are feeling right now. I am so, so sorry for your pain.
As I was at the Indiana Dunes Birding Festival this weekend, I learned something about one of Monty’s half-sisters, also born to Yogi at Silver Lake State Park. The young plover has taken up residence on an island in Michigan, Fisherman’s Island. And she has found a mate there, a place where Piping Plovers haven’t been in years.