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.
I wanted to highlight some of the comments that I’ve come across since Monty’s passing. These were bright spots during a sad weekend and summarize Monty’s impact more than anything. The first several of these were in response to Block Club Chicago reporter Kelly Bauer on Twitter.
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.
Lovely tribute for a tribute-worthy bird. It's because of folks like you that the Great Lakes piping plover has become a symbol of grassroots conservation activism. I can't tell you how many birding people I've connected with by bringing up "Monty and Rose", Montrose Beach, Bob Dolgan, etc. Thank you for continuing to honor their legacy and for your conservation stewardship, Bob!