Chicago Ecological Services Field Office

Midwest Region


Map of Chicago Field Office counties of responsibility.






Ecological Services

We work with public and private entities to conserve and restore Chicago metro area endangered species, migratory birds, wetlands, and other important fish and wildlife resources.



For questions about CITES permits, and importing wildlife and wildlife parts, please contact the USFWS Chicago Wildlife Inspection Program (847) 298-3250


Chicago’s Piping Plovers fledge three chicks at Montrose Beach

A piping plover does a 'broken wing' display to try to distract people or predators from its nest

Esperanza spreads their wings

Photo by Raed Mansour


On July 11, 2020, Monty and Rose’s three endangered Great Lakes Piping Plover chicks reached fledging age, marking the second year that the piping plover pair has successfully fledged chicks at Montrose Beach. This exciting news leads to hope that they may return in future years to have more chicks.

Each of the three piping plover chicks has been marked with unique color bands by the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery effort banding team.


The local birding groups who organized the volunteer monitoring effort reached out to people across Chicago to invite naming suggestions for the now individually recognizable chicks. The chosen names reflect Chicago’s heritage, culture, and diversity, and hope for an inclusive future:

The piping plovers will continue to feed and fly around Montrose beach, gaining strength for their long migrations south to wintering grounds in the Gulf Coast states, Mexico, and the Caribbean.

The success of this year’s nesting season was made possible by many people and organizations, and we are very grateful to the Chicago Park District and their volunteer stewards, and to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, USDA Wildlife Services, and the Great Lakes Piping Plover Recovery Effort. A special thank you to the Illinois Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, and Chicago Ornithological Society, and all the volunteer monitors who watched over the plover family throughout the nesting season.

Learn more about these endangered piping plovers and the recovery effort




Piping plovers nesting in Chicago for a second year

A piping plover does a 'broken wing' display to try to distract people or predators from its nest

A piping plover displays to distract from its nest

Photo courtesy of Jason Steger CPD

May 1, 2020, was an exciting day, as Chicago’s two Great Lakes piping plovers were spotted together on Montrose Beach after surviving the migration to and from their wintering grounds. The pair, nicknamed Monty and Rose, successfully fledged two chicks at this beach last summer and have returned to their lakeside home to nest here again. From sightings this winter, we learned that Rose wintered in Florida while Monty was seen heading south in Texas last fall. 


Piping Plover




Two endangered Piping Plover chicks sucessfully fledged from Montrose Beach in Chicago


Eastern prairie fringed orchid

Fledged Piping Plover chicks at Montrose Beach, Chicago

Photo courtesy of Tamima Itani

On August 10, 2019, we passed a milestone with the first successful fledging of piping plover chicks in Chicago since at least 1961, when a pair of plovers were seen at Wolf Lake during the nesting season.


Hundreds of people contributed to the success of the nest, and thousands more cheered on the plovers.


Piping Plover



A pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers have nested at Montrose Beach

A banded piping plover on Montrose Beach

Piping Plover performing a "broken wing"

display in response to nest disturbance

Photo courtesy of Tamima Itani

The birding community, led by the Chicago Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, and the Illinois Ornithological Society, quickly mobilized to recruit volunteers and establish shifts to monitor the nesting pair and share their excitement and information with other Montrose beachgoers. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources have been working with the Piping Plover Volunteer Monitors and the Chicago Park District to monitor and assess threats to the nesting pair and plan responses.


Piping Plover



"She is fighting" Stops at Montrose Beach

A banded piping plover on Montrose Beach

Migaaza at Montrose beach May 2019

Photo courtesy of Terry Walsh

This first week in May, the habitat at Montrose Beach provided a resting and refueling stopover spot for an endangered Great Lakes piping plover female named Migaaza, or "she is fighting", in the language of the Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians. Wildlife biologists for the Odawa named Migaaza last year when they found her on High Island in Lake Michigan and banded her with a unique combination of colored bands. 



Piping Plover



Dragonfly Culture...A Continuing Education Species!

A volunteer uses a toothpick to hand-pollinate an eastern prairie fringed orchid.

After working with the Hine’s emerald dragonfly for almost 20 years, both the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and University of South Dakota are finding out there is still much to learn!


Learn More »

Hine's Emerald Dragonfly




Abbott Laboratories staff lend a hand to help the eastern prairie fringed orchid

A volunteer uses a toothpick to hand-pollinate an eastern prairie fringed orchid.

Abbott Laboratories is an American health care company with its headquarters in Lake Bluff, Illinois. One portion of its large campus includes 160 acres of undeveloped land.


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Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid




Know your community, know your birds: birding Chicago's forest preserves

Baltimore Oriole

You love to bird and so do we! At the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service we look for opportunities to get people outside and learn about their natural world. Take a moment to learn about how Chicago is rallying around birds.


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Learn more about birding at Forest Preserves of Cook County and get involved today!




News Archives


Last updated: July 21, 2020