CHICAGO - Just weeks after one of Chicago's beloved piping plovers died unexpectedly on a North Side beach, a cause of death has been determined.
A necropsy was conducted by Lincoln Park Zoo after Monty's death on May 13, and found the bird died of a respiratory infection, according to a statement from zoo officials.
"After this procedure, it was determined that Monty died of a severe fungal respiratory infection, including a laryngitis which restricted his airway," the statement said. "Additional testing is being conducted to identify the fungus, but it is suspected as environmental in origin."
The zoo said further testing found Monty showed no signs of avian influenza, also known as bird flu.
Monty's remains were donated to the Field Museum to aid future studies in assisting the recovery of the Great Lake piping plovers, the statement said.
"Lincoln Park Zoo, USFWS, and all those dedicated to Monty and the piping plovers are devastated by this loss but remain hopeful for the future of this species in Chicago and the Great Lakes region," the statement said.
Monty returned to Chicago in mid-April 2022 after first arriving in 2021 with his mate, Rose. But not long after returning to his usual nesting ground on Montrose Beach, Monty appeared to be in distress.
"He was observed gasping for air before dropping and passing away," said Chicago Park District spokeswoman Tamima Itani.
Monty and Rose were the first Piping Plover couple to shack up in the city since the 1950s, and their return helped sustain the population of the rare bird.
Also, last month, another Piping Plover was spotted at Rainbow Beach on Chicago's South Side.
Associated Press contributed to this report.