A pair of Great Lakes Piping Plovers have nested at Montrose
Beach in Chicago this summer. The spot
they picked is adjacent to a world-renowned bird sanctuary and a growing dune
ecosystem supported by the Chicago Park District Natural Areas program, and
dedicated stewards, volunteers, and supporters.
The nesting spot is also adjacent to
volleyball courts, a kayak rental, a restaurant with live music, and one
of the busiest beaches in Chicago.
Photo: Nesting plover performing “broken-wing” display in response
to nest disturbance. Credit: Tamima Itani
birding community, led by the Chicago Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon
Society, and the Illinois Ornithological Society, quickly mobilized to recruit
volunteers and establish shifts of birder volunteers who monitor the nesting piping
plover pair and share their excitement and information with other Montrose
beachgoers. Almost two hundred
volunteers have been taking turns at two-hour shifts and will be out watching
the birds from 6 am to midnight during the busy holiday week. The plover pair, named Rose and Monty by the Montrose birding
community, have been the stars of tremendous media interest, appearing
regularly in photos and videos on TV news and of course on Facebook and other
social media (see below photo). Such is the general
excitement that Chicagoans around town are now regularly spotted wearing
“Chicago is for P/lovers” t-shirts.
Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) and the Illinois Department of Natural
Resources (IDNR) 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. Working with the Chicago Park District, the
USFWS and IDNR have roped off the nesting area and have placed a cage around
the nest to protect the eggs from predators and other dangers. The nesting plovers can freely move in and out
of the protective cage, and they take turns sitting on the nest while the other
parent feeds on the beach.
“I feel so fortunate that we had this wonderful birding community that could mobilize so quickly,” USFWS Field Supervisor Louise Clemency says. “These birds would not have had a chance without the COS quickly enlisting such large numbers of volunteers to watch over the plovers.”
Photo: FWS biologist installs nest cage while parent plover
displays nearby. The plover returned to
incubation immediately after nest cage was installed. Credit:
Brad Semel IDNR
This is the
plover pair’s 2nd nest this year. The first nest of four eggs was located in an
area that became flooded and the eggs were rescued into the care of the Lincoln
Park Zoo, then transferred into the Great Lakes Piping Plover Salvage Captive
Rearing and Release program. Their current nest is
located within an area already roped off to protect a colony of nesting bank
swallows. A new larger area was roped
off to protect the nesting plovers from disturbance.
extinct from the Great Lakes region in the early 1980s, the pair represents one
of approximately 70 breeding pairs of Piping Plovers in the entire Great Lakes
region. This is a major milestone in their recovery, increasing from a low of
just 13 pairs!
The East Haven community in Connecticut rallied behind Momauguin Elementary School as they dedicated a schoolyard habitat, in partnership with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Audubon Connecticut. From the Department of Public Works who brought in equipment to flatten and grade the site, to the local hardware store who donated supplies, to a local garden supplier/horticulturist who was a consultant on plant selection, to the Town Concilman and East Haven Chamber of Commerce who led the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and a high school student who built planters with the elementary kids as part of his capstone graduation project (which he won an award as the best capstone project of his school!)…many partners helped bring to life the school’s habitat design with the intention to enrich their campus with a habitat for wildlife and a more powerful learning environment for students.
Photos: Arnold Gold / Hearst Connecticut Media, in the New Haven Register.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Partners with City of Providence for Urban Bird Treaty City Designation
On May 6, 2019, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber joined U.S. Senator Jack Reed, Mayor Jorge O. Elorza, and other elected officials and many partners at the Roger Williams Park Bandstand to designate the City of Providence as an Urban Bird Treaty City. Providence is now among 30 cities recognized nationwide with this designation.
“Migratory birds add to the biodiversity of our ecosystem and have a unique importance in our City due to their economic, ecological and cultural value,” said Mayor Jorge Elorza. “By reaffirming our commitment to conserving the habitats of these ecologically essential birds, we are recognizing our shared responsibility to care for them and the lands they fly over during their incredible journeys.”
“This federal designation as an Urban Bird Treaty city recognizes Providence’s outstanding commitment to protecting and conserving bird populations and their ecosystems. The grant will help with both habitat restoration efforts and environmental education and outreach,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior & Environment, which oversees federal funding for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Birds are a keystone species and they are beneficial in so many ways, like keeping insect populations down. Our feathered friends have a great champion in Mayor Elorza and the Providence Parks Department, so they are surely singing their praises today. And I want to add my congratulations and appreciation to all the partners who helped Providence achieve this distinction. Ultimately, enhancing the habitat for birds makes Providence a healthier, more livable city for people too.”
The treaty between the City of Providence and the USFWS acknowledges the importance of these local efforts in achieving migratory bird conservation and improving the health and well-being of people in urban areas.
“The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to designate Providence as an Urban Bird Treaty city and support the many dedicated partner organizations working here to restore habitat in local parks, deepen people’s connection with nature, and conserve our migratory birds through community education, science, and stewardship,” Weber said.
Photo: Northeast Regional Director Wendi Weber signs Urban Bird Treaty with City of Providence as Mayor Jorge Elorza and students from the Paul Cuffee School’s Wild Kids Club celebrate. / Bridget Macdonald, USFWS
Photo: U.S. Senator Jack Reed speaks at Urban Bird Treaty signing event on May 6, 2019, at Roger Williams Park in Providence, RI. / Roxanne Bogart, USFWS
For more information, visit the CIty of Providence and USFWS news releases:
We completed the first phase of a comprehensive evaluation of the Urban Wildlife Conservation Program. This involved 16 priority urban refuges sharing how they are meeting the program’s Standards of Excellence. The evaluation looked at what is going well and, just as importantly, what challenges and hurdles we need to overcome to meet the goal of partnering with urban communities in conservation. Here are some findings:
Most stations are beginning to make progress toward engaging communities, but more effort is needed to ensure community input informs programming.
Stations made moderate to high progress in building and sustaining partnerships. Stations and partners rate their relationships highly and recognize the mutual benefits of working together.
Stations identified several needs to make further progress: infrastructure such as contact stations, signage, restrooms and parking; training, including in customer service and audience research; and improved external communication such as better websites and multilingual communications.
Bird Species that Call During Migration More Susceptible to Building Collisions
New study finds that bird species that call during migration flights seem to be more susceptible to collisions with buildings, drawing more individuals in towards the lights. So these species end up with a potentially similar ‘drawn in’ effect –like bats with turbines–emphasizing the importance of Lights Out programs.
New & improved Daycation mobile app available for iPhone and Android
The Intertwine Alliance and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service are proud to announce the release of Northwest Family Daycation – just in time for your spring break fun!
Daycation is a completely free mobile app for families with young children that takes all the planning and guesswork out of exploring nature in the Portland region. Our team of parents and nature enthusiasts have curated fun adventures all over town that connect natural areas to other community amenities, all while considering the needs of young explorers and their caregivers.
This version 2 release of Daycation features major design and functionality improvements based on user feedback. A big thank you to everyone who has been involved with the app’s development over the past few years by creating Daycations or downloading the product. We hope you’ll check out v2 on Apple and Android phones – and let us know what you think!
Our team will release a new Daycation each week. Intertwine partners and friends, we invite you to keep submitting adventures featuring your favorite places.
Questions or thoughts? Please email the Daycation team at
Announcement: Training Webinar for Urban Eval Phase 1
WHEN: A training webinar for Urban Evaluation Phase One of the Priority 14 Urban Wildlife Refuges will be held on February 7, 2017.
WHAT: Planning and Partners Assessment forms, in a fillable format, will be distributed during the webinar.
OTHER INFO and IMPORTANT DATES: The deadline for the 14 Priority Refuges to complete assessments has moved to August 15, 2017.
A formal invitation with login instructions will be forwarded soon. Please inform others, or share this calendar invitation, to any other interested parties. Other interested refuges may join the webinar for information, but it is not required.
New Orleans' Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge
Offering a 24,000-acre living laboratory, Bayou Sauvage is an outdoor recreation and wildlife gem in one of the country’s most vibrant urban centers.
When most people think of New Orleans, their minds wander to steaming bowls of gumbo and jambalaya, late-night jazz haunts, Mardi Gras and the bustling French Quarter. Unfortunately, since Hurricane Katrina, our memories are burned with images of a once-vibrant city struggling to recover from a natural disaster. Whatever your impressions of this Southern city, they probably don’t include vast swaths of public land or wildlife, but that’s exactly what you’ll find in the 24,000-acre Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, which rests entirely within the New Orleans city limits. Read More
Filmmaker Talks New Condor Recovery Program Video, Education Consevation
Conservationist and photojournalist Ian Shive has shot and filmed all over the world with organizations like the Sierra Club, the Nature Conservancy, the National Parks Service, telling the untold stories of wildlife refuges and protected lands. He recently teamed with the US Fish and Wildlife Service for their California Condor Recovery Program, helping teach students from Fillmore’s Mountain Vista Elementary School and Fillmore Middle School on conservation education. I spoke with Shive in a phone interview about the importance of education, the divide between wild and urban areas, and the aesthetics of conservation. Read more
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Urban Wildlife Conservation Program got a big boost last week in Colorado as two new videos about urban outreach in Southern California debuted at the Telluride Photo Festival.
The festival, in its fourth year, attracted more than 150 nature photographers, videographers and magazine editors who specialize in outdoor and adventure storytelling. Read More…
Springfield Picked For Urban Wildlife Conservation Program
The city of Springfield, Massachusetts has been recognized by the federal government for environmental stewardship. With the designation comes some money for a project to restore an urban conservation area.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Monday designated the Springfield Urban Wildlife Refuge Partnership. It is a cooperative effort to promote conservation values with urban residents, especially young people, according to Deborah Rocque, the northeast deputy regional director for the wildlife service.
CondorKid Technology Takes Flight with Launch of Livestream Nestcam
CondorKid Technology Takes Flight with Launch of Livestream Nestcam
Just two weeks into a new school year, Principal John Wilber welcomed a crowd of more than 300 children, parents and community members to Mountain Vista Elementary School in the small foothill town of Fillmore, California. Learn more.
Alaska 2015 Expedition: A Cross-Cultural Exploration
This August, inner-city youth, U.S. veterans and volunteers came together to form a community in the midst of Mother Nature’s rawest environment: Alaska’s rugged wilderness.
Black, brown, or white, religious or non-religious, soldiers of war and soldiers of the streets, from Oregon, Washington, and even Florida, all mashed into an unfamiliar, lush environment abundant with wild animal, aquatic, and plant life. We were experiencing firsthand the wildest of our public lands. As Americans we are blessed with vast public lands that belong to all of us. Sadly, the kids I brought to Alaska don’t have the chance to spend the time they need to heal in the amazing public lands in their own backyards. But it’s important those protected lands are there for them, waiting to help. Read more