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As Shedd Aquarium Action Days Extend to Litter Pickup, New Beach Cleanup at Montrose Harbor for Piping Plovers

Volunteers Can Join to Prepare for Spring Migration of Great Lakes Birds

March 31, 2021

A beautiful view of the Chicago skyline from the edge of the Chicago River, where volunteers comb through native prairie plants for invasive species.

As a pair of endangered Great Lakes Piping Plovers begin their spring migration ahead of nesting and breeding season, local conservation partners in the city of Chicago are joining forces for a special habitat restoration effort on Montrose Beach. On April 11, starting at 10 a.m., volunteers can join to do a beach cleanup to prepare the habitat for the birds and help give this year’s potential chicks the best chance at survival. Shedd Aquarium will be hosting the cleanup as part of their Action Days program, in partnership with Chicago Ornithological Society, Chicago Audubon Society, Illinois Ornithological Society, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, IL Department of Natural Resources, and the Chicago Park District.

The plover pair, dubbed Monty and Rose, was first spotted in 2019 at Montrose Beach. Despite numerous challenges, with the help of countless volunteers, the pair successfully raised hatchlings and returned the following year to do so again. Volunteers, conservation groups and birders are eager for their arrival again.

All are welcome to volunteer and no prior experience is required, but registration in advance is required to help maintain social distancing and limited capacity. Volunteers also must bring and wear a face covering during the event.

For those unable to make this specific event, volunteers can still take action for animals at Shedd Aquarium Action Days to restore nearby beaches, waterways, and forest preserves throughout April and May. For more information about community action days, including upcoming dates and times, what to bring, and other things to know, please visit Shedd’s website:

WHEN: Sunday, April 11 at 10, 10:30, 11 and 11:30 a.m.

WHERE: Montrose Beach

HOW: Registration is required but participation is free and all ages welcome. To sign up, email: [email protected]

BACKGROUND: Chicago’s lakes, rivers and wetlands are home to a great diversity of flora and fauna, from birds like piping plovers and fish like bluegill to native aquatic plants. Shedd Aquarium’s Action Days provide opportunities for the Chicago community to learn about native aquatic systems, woodlands and prairies firsthand, while taking action that directly supports the success of these ecosystems.

Action Day programming includes litter cleanups, river planting and coastal, and woodland habitat restoration. Litter cleanups are facilitated at sites along the Lake Michigan and Chicago River shoreline through the Alliance for the Great Lakes Adopt-a-Beach™ program. Volunteers pick up litter along the shoreline while recording data on their findings to prevent littering in the future. Habitat restoration takes place in both coastal and woodland locations, partnering with the Chicago Park District and Forest Preserves of Cook County to maintain diverse, successful native natural areas.

VISUALS: Photos of the Piping Plovers are available for download: credit: ©Susan Szeszol

Visuals of previous Shedd Aquarium Action Days are also available for download: ©Shedd Aquarium