Dori Levine has been a plover monitor for the past two years at Chicago’s Montrose Beach. She joined us to share the story of her tattoo of Rose and her thoughts on the 2020 season. When not monitoring plovers, Dori works in Accounts Receivable for a facilities management company.
Q: How did you become a plover monitor?
DL: I was newly a birder. Even when I was younger, I remember my 5th grade teacher talking about an adopt a baby seal program. I was into learning about endangered animals in general. There was a call out that there were endangered plovers at Montrose Beach and if anyone wanted to help watch this endangered species. I was just interested and jumped right in. They sent out a packet [about plover monitoring], and I soaked it up like a sponge.
Q: Why did you get a tattoo of Rose?
DL: I always wanted a tattoo but never knew what I really wanted. It was hard to pick just one thing that I would always love. I enjoyed the time learning about these birds [in 2019] and felt like a mama bear with the chicks and had an affinity with Monty and Rose. And the fact that they were successful and that they might just come back…I was so hopeful. I thought I’d love to see a plover all the time. I’ve always been a water person and a shorebird made sense, especially a piping plover and Rose.
Q: Why Rose and not Monty? Was it something about her in particular?
DL: I love Rose. I thought it was funny last year when she was not leaving, and Monty had to fight her to leave. I was drawn more to Rose. I liked how her [neck] band was thicker and not straight and a little rough around the edges. For whatever reason I thought that she was a little feisty mama and I liked that. So I do call my tattoo Rose in honor of her.
I never looked back I just thought [the tattoo] reminded me of the whole experience and my love for this bird I never even knew existed before. After volunteering for the 2019 piping plover watch, I felt like it was a way to memorialize this time for me.
Q: What are your thoughts looking back on two years of piping plover monitoring and Monty and Rose?
DL: I think I was much more stressed last year. There were dogs—off-leash and on-leash—volleyballs, predators and lots of people around. It was a lot to keep track of, especially when the chicks were just running all over the place. It was a little more stressful.
This year—man did they choose a great nesting site—but it was hard to watch them on the nest. You were literally looking for a head or tail between two slices of grass. ‘Who’s here is it Monty or Rose?’ You couldn’t see who was who. It was so difficult to see.
But it was less stressful with less people on the beach, less animals, no balls, and no music. For the most part it was a pretty calm time. I think all the volunteers would agree with that. I for one thought it was a privilege to be at the beach. To me birdwatching is meditative. It was a privilege just to be out there and being able to learn about them.