Two endangered shorebirds that birding enthusiasts have tracked for years along a Chicago beachfront have lost their latest clutch of eggs to a skunk attack.
A skunk raided the piping plovers' nest Wednesday night at Montrose Beach Dunes and ate all four of their eggs, said Tamima Itani, vice president and treasurer of the Illinois Ornithological Society.
The nesting pair, known as Monty and Rose, were not harmed when the skunk reached into the protective wire enclosure surrounding their nest, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
“Monty and Rose are resilient,” Itani wrote in a blog post on chicagopipingplovers.org, a website that provides updates on the birds, which first nested at the site in 2019.
The piping plover is a small shorebird that's on a number of state endangered species lists and is listed as threatened at the federal level.
Brad Semel, an endangered species recovery specialist, said volunteers have “done a tremendous job" protecting the birds' nest from humans, dogs and other threats.
“But it’s still the natural world here, and things like that can happen," he said.
Itani and other volunteers will continue to monitor the plovers and keep a lookout for where birds might choose to nest again.
If the birds do build another nest, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services will place a larger wired enclosure over the nest to protect it from predators, Itani wrote.