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Perspective: Requiem for a Plover

Memorial -  Photo by David Gunkel.JPG
David Gunkel
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A few weeks ago, I attended a memorial service for a celebrity. He was not a well-known actor, a beloved professional athlete, or even a social media influencer. He was a bird. A great lakes piping plover named Monty.

Monty&Rose - Photo by David Gunkel.jpg
David Gunkel
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Monty and Rose

Monty captured the hearts of the city of Chicago and the entire Great Lakes region, when he, along with his partner Rose, came to nest at Montrose beach in 2019. At that point, these endangered birds had not set up shop in Chicago since the middle of the previous century. And they were not only successful that year, they returned in 2020 and 2021. In total Monty and Rose fledged seven chicks, exceeding even the best of expectations. Their success was aided by an army of human volunteers who mobilized to stand watch over the birds and the fragile habitat they called home. It was a monumental effort.

Monty did return to Montrose in April of 2022, but suddenly took ill and died of an infection. To make matters worse, Rose has not been seen and is presumed to be lost. But something remarkable took place the evening of that memorial service. While the human volunteers remembered and celebrated the life and legacy of Monty and Rose, one of their offspring—a male named Imani—had just been seen feeding along the lake shore.

Imani 2022 - Photo by Ann Hetzel Gunkel.jpg
Ann Hetzel Gunkel
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The future arrived at Montrose Beach -- Imani.

The word “Imani” means faith in Swahili and that is precisely the gift this small bird bestowed upon all of us. Faith that the story of Monty and Rose continues.