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Catching up with...Imani

Wild Indigo seen on wintering grounds.

It can be hard to fathom how small Piping Plovers really are because of the proliferation of high-powered camera lenses. So visiting Montrose Beach doesn’t always mean it will be possible to readily find the plovers or really engage with them meaningfully.

That was the case on a visit last week. It was cold, with the wind blowing in from the north and down the full 300-mile fetch of Lake Michigan. The shorebirds at the beach consisted of a few Dunlins, a Sanderling, and a Ruddy Turnstone, all clustered close to the fishing pier.

I decided to stand on the west end of the protected dune area (outside the fence, of course), with the hope that the Piping Plovers would make an appearance also, and maybe even end up nearby. They have an uncanny ability to do that. And, yes, it is “they,” the Chicago Tribune shared the news in a piece, “A second piping plover has joined Imani at Montrose Beach, but he’s no wingman,” on May 13. You might recall Imani returned to Montrose on April 25. Hatched in 2022, he is likely the last living offspring of the legendary Monty and Rose.

During my recent visit, it was first Imani and then the other plover, Green Dot, who made an appearance with the other shorebirds. They were far away, but it was possible to see they were engaging in “parallel walking,” the side-by-side movement that establishes a territorial boundary should a female arrive.

Soon enough, Imani took to the air and landed closer to where I and others were standing, perhaps within 100 yards. It was like he had enough of the “walking” and went back to where he was perhaps most comfortable, the west end of the protected beach. He nestled into the ground, as you’ll see in the video. Eventually he began walking the beach again before disappearing into the dune scrub.

Now we wait to see if a female does arrive. It’s not out of the question as not all plovers have made it up north yet (see next item). There is some intrigue yet again at our beautiful local beach.

Wild Indigo follows in Monty’s footsteps

On May 2, Chicago Piping Plovers shared the news that a plover released at Montrose Beach has been seen in Texas. A banded Piping Plover in Port Aransas, Texas, turned out to be Wild Indigo (who appears to be a male). The plover release last year was the first to take place outside of the state of Michigan. Young plovers—raised at a University of Michigan facility—also were released at Illinois Beach State Park.

The Instagram post went on to say:

Wild Indigo was one of the three captive reared chicks released at Montrose Beach last July and is related to both Monty and Imani. Wild Indigo shares in the family tradition of breaking the norm by wintering in Texas, as few of the Piping Plovers from the Great Lakes population winter there.

As our hearts soar with joy, we wish Wild Indigo safe and speedy travels as he soars back north to the breeding grounds.


This Week in Birding
This Week in Birding
Bob Dolgan