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

 

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. 

 

Since they arrived, the birds have been seen feeding, engaging in courtship behavior, and most recently, taking turns sitting on a nest of eggs.

 

Because a piping plover nest is just a scrape in the sand with perhaps a few pebbles placed around by the plover to camouflage the eggs, the nests and speckled eggs are very hard to see.  When a predator that might eat the eggs nears the nest, the incubating plover will walk away from the nest and do a "broken wing display" to look like easy prey and distract the predator away from noticing the eggs.  While the exclosure was being placed by Brad Semel of IDNR, Monty did a broken wing display to try to draw his attention away from the nest. We put up the exclosures as quickly as we can to minimize stress to the birds.  After Brad backed away from the installed exclosure, the plover immediately walked into the wire cage and sat back down over the eggs to resume incubation. Monty and Rose will be very familiar with nesting in a cage from last year.


Even though Montrose Beach is currently closed to the public due to Covid-19, the Chicago community is still very excited to watch from afar and wish Monty and Rose success in raising and fledging their chicks at Montrose this summer.

 

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!

 

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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!

 


 

ESA consultation on road construction provides more protection for eastern prairie fringed orchid population

Eastern prairie fringed orchid

Since 2009, the Chicago Illinois Field Office has been working with the Illinois Department of Transportation to protect a population of the eastern prairie fringed orchid in northeastern Illinois. The orchid is listed under the Endangered Species Act as a threatened species and is vulnerable to habitat degradation, such as from increased pollutants associated with dirty water running off roadways after storms.

 

Learn More »

Eastern Prairie Fringed Orchid

 

 


 

 

News Archives

 

Last updated: June 9, 2020