A pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers that have captured the hearts of Chicago nature lovers by nesting each year at Montrose Beach have been dealt a setback, as a predator has apparently eaten the birds’ eggs from their nest.
Officials with the Chicago Park District confirmed that the eggs were gone on Thursday, and say that steps are being taken to protect the habitat as the birds work on a new nest.
Fencing has been erected around the Montrose Beach Dunes Natural Area, and the entrances to the area are blocked as Monty, the male, and Rose, the female, rebuild.
According to officials, predators such as raccoons and skunks have been known to raid nests and eat the eggs.
Monty, who wintered in Texas, and Rose, who wintered in Florida, arrived within a day of one another at Montrose Beach earlier this spring. The pair produced a clutch of four eggs, which were laid in May. Typically, plover eggs take approximately one month to hatch.
The eggs are kept in a wired enclosure to help protect them from predators, according to officials.
This is the third summer that the incredibly rare birds have spent at the beach. They fledged three chicks last summer and two more in 2019. The Great Lakes Piping Plover population is now up to approximately 70 breeding pairs, according to researchers, after dropping down to fewer than 20 earlier in the decade.