One of Chicago's most beloved piping plovers, Monty, has died unexpectedly, a Twitter account announced Friday.
"We are saddened to share that today Monty passed away unexpectedly. We will share more as we learn more," Chicago Piping Plovers said in a tweet Friday evening.
Monty was spotted earlier this season at Chicago's Montrose Beach, where he and his fellow piping plover Rose have called home in recent years. Rose has not been seen since last season, however.
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Monty and Rose have been two of an estimated 75 pairs of piping plovers that are currently living in the Great Lakes region. The highly-endangered birds have thrilled birdwatchers for years, and have prompted officials to take steps to protect them ever since.
The return of Monty, as well as the rest stop made by another piping plover at Rainbow Beach, have encouraged wildlife experts that there could be additional places for the birds to rest, and to potentially breed, in the city.
Wildlife expert Armand Cann urged residents to take steps to protect the birds, who are sensitive to noise and other factors. Once the breeding birds start to arrive, residents are urged to treat breeding areas with respect, and to keep a respectful distance.
Earlier on Friday, Chicago Piping Plovers tweeted a proclamation from Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, declaring Saturday Illinois Bird Day. The new holiday coincides with World Migratory Bird Day, which takes place the second Saturday in May in Canada and in the U.S.