CHICAGO - Two of Chicago's biggest celebrities have just flown in for the summer.
For the third straight year, two endangered piping plovers reunited at Montrose Beach to a crowd of bird enthusiasts, armed with cameras.
The female showed up Sunday and conservationists were on pins and needles to see if the male would join her for the third straight year. Then, shortly after 5 p.m. Monday, FOX 32 News received confirmation that "Monty" and "Rose" were back together again on Montrose Beach.
"These piping plovers are special. Monty and Rose are the first pair of nesting piping plovers that we've had in Chicago in over 20 years," said Matt Freer with the Chicago Park District.
Last year, Monty and Rose showed up within four hours of one another. This year, Rose showed up Sunday morning and Monty joined her Monday evening after being spotted four days ago in Texas.
"The historic moment, the reuniting. I think it's cool to see history in the making," said Dylan Fahoome, who was among more than a dozen bird enthusiasts who came to the lakefront with their cameras when the news broke.
"For somebody who's lived in the Chicago area all his life, this is pretty fun. It's a pretty exciting thing for me to be able to get that," said Sean Kennedy, a bird photographer who was among the first to capture images of Rose on Sunday morning.
Daniela Herrera volunteers for the park district in protecting the habitat where Rose and Monty are nesting.
"They're just really important to the habitat, really important for us as people too, to see what habitat restoration can do for us and for wildlife in the area," she said.
The Chicago Park District along with the US Fish and Wildlife Service have protected an additional 3.1 acres at the south end of Montrose beach to accommodate Monty, Rose and other protected bird species.
"Once they successfully breed and the eggs are laid, we protect those eggs," said Freer.
It's part of an effort that's leading to a promising rebound in the number of piping plovers in the Great Lakes region. Volunteers and bird lovers ask the public to respect the boundaries of the space.
"They've got it set up like this for a reason so just kind of respect the space," said Kennedy.
"The most important thing is to keep dogs off the beach because they can pose a threat to the wildlife especially the endangered piping plovers," said Herrera.
The federally endangered plovers first showed up on the lakefront in 2019. Five chicks have been born on Montrose Beach.