Monty and Rose Chicago Birds Heritage

The txirritxo can be seen on the sandy coast, even if you can see it. Its delicate 7-inch frame is also small in the seabird family, and its silent feathers match the sand that makes it nest. Unfortunately, the bird’s favorite breeding grounds have been on the sandy plains of the Great Plains, the Atlantic coast, and the shores of the Great Lakes. This has led to coastal populations appearing as threatened, while inland populations are at risk.

This species makes the story of Monty and Rose, a famous pair of birds north of Chicago, much more important in the fight against human activity and flooding. After nesting in Lake Michigan for three summers and spending the summer in May, Monty died unexpectedly from a fungal respiratory infection. Rose has also not been seen since she moved to Florida last winter. However, their story has continued to resonate throughout the nation in bird circles and in the hearts of locals.

Monty and Rose found the house on Chicago’s Montrose Beach in 2019 without being paired in a suburban parking lot. Their choice of real estate was difficult for a number of reasons. Before them, no nest had been built in Chicago for more than 70 years. When conservation efforts began in the 1980s, only 11 to 14 pairs of birds lived in the Great Lakes, all in the state of Michigan. (There are currently about 70 lakes in the five lakes.) In addition, Montrose Beach is a popular beach town for swimmers, kayakers, volleyball players, and the 2019 music festival was canceled due to concerns from Monty and Rose.

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Sarah Saunders, a quantitative environmentalist at the Audubon Society who has worked with birds since 2010, says that birds can breed in high-traffic areas for a variety of reasons. They usually start building their nests in mid-April before the summer weather pulls them out of the beach. Once the eggs are laid and hatched, large groups of people keep their prey away from hawks. “There’s no shortage of predators that will go after the clam,” Saunders says. “And if we can’t find a nest and put a fence around it, a lot of those predators go after the eggs.”

As they were close to Chicago, the couple almost made a fuss in the city upon their arrival. Bob Dolgan, a local filmmaker, produced a documentary about the Cook County couple after recording the beginnings of Monty’s cover-up behavior.

“I was horrified that these birds would try to nest on the beach, which is probably the busiest in Chicago,” says Dolgan. “It simply came to our notice then. The story made a snowball out of it. ”

Dolgan and Saunders agree when they see the tremendous support they have received in Chicago. Each nest in the Great Lakes is controlled by a network of volunteers and staff from Audubon corporations, state natural resources departments, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, National Park Services, Birds Canada, universities, and more. Saunders describes the nest protection effort as “incredible,” tracking the chicks, educating beachgoers, and putting up fences to scare away prey. Dolgan says there was no shortage of Chicago residents ready to spend their days caring for Monty and Rose.

“That’s one of the amazing things for me, because for years someone has been involved in many non-profit causes and organizations,” he added. “It was so exciting for so many people, it’s never been harder to find volunteers, and I think that says a lot about the conservation community in Chicago.”

[Related: The future of American conservation lies in restoration, not just protection]

The excitement held the pair of birds together for many successful breeding seasons. The birds faced a storm in June 2019 with strong winds and unpredictable water levels in Lake Michigan for years. However, Saunders recalls that with any threat Illusion held the pair of birds together for many successful breeding seasons. The birds faced a storm in June 2019 with strong winds and unpredictable water levels in Lake Michigan for years. However, Saunders recalls that through any threat (including when volunteers put ID tags on the chicks), Monty would always defend his family. “Clearly he was very dedicated,” he says.

Although Monty and Rose are no longer there, Saunders has been moved by Chicago’s help and the birds ’help. He says that in his travels, outsiders know the names of the little birds and now understand the importance of the species. “They have genetically contributed to the population, and as scientists, [is] We would like to see something, ”he said. “But it’s also what they’ve done in terms of public outreach and education. And even if they’re gone, that doesn’t mean other birds of the future won’t find Montrose Beach and won’t nest. “

Compared to when Monty and Rose first arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, the little birds in the area are now dedicated and educated fans. The Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the region’s multi-agency sponsorship plan, has helped the woodpecker population grow from less than a dozen breeding pairs a year to 75. USFWS aims to reach 150 breeding pairs.

As dozens of pebbles roam the beaches, Saunders says people are excited and know more about the species. “This will help us continue to recover and help us achieve our federal goal over time,” he says. The story of Monty and Rose helped to feed what Saunders calls the “bird fever,” still spreading through documentaries, t-shirts, and tributes to the giant small bird community.

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