Monty the piping plover has died Friday, authorities said.
“It is with great sadness that we confirm the passing of Monty, one of the Montrose Beach Piping Plovers,” said Irene Tostado, of the Chicago Park District.
Tamima Itani, of the Chicago Piping Plovers, shared more details, saying Monty died Friday afternoon.
“He was observed gasping for air before dropping and passing away,” said Itani.
Monty was taken to Lincoln Park Zoo, where he will be tested. Results are expected in about a week, according to Itani.
Tweets began flooding social media Friday just after 6 pm
“We are saddened to share that today Monty passed away unexpectedly,” said a tweet from the official account for Chicago Piping Plover news and content. “We will share more as we learn more.”
Monty was back in Chicago as of last month.
Another message was posted by the Chicago Ornithological Society:
“We are shocked and saddened to report that Monty the Piping Plover is no longer with us,” said another tweet, from the Chicago Ornithological Society. “We do not know as of yet what happened, but he is currently being evaluated by professionals.”
[ Piping plovers in Chicago: How the ‘love story’ between Monty and Rose unfolded at Montrose Beach ]
Monty captured the city’s heart when he and Rose, Great Lakes piping plovers, three years ago became the first of the endangered shorebirds to nest successfully in Chicago in decades.
The endangered pair, who became Chicago’s piping plover power couple, wrote Morgan Greene of the Chicago Tribune, chose Montrose Beach as their summer nesting spot, before flying south.
The love birds, individually weighing less than a stick of butter, went on to break records, fledge chicks and serve as symbols for a city as hopeful and hardscrabble as two birds, that picked an urban beach to save their species.
“It’s a comeback story because they went way down in population and then they came back. It’s a great story of conservation,” said Patricia O’Donnell earlier, a monitor for the plovers. “But I got to tell you — it’s a love story.”
“Monty and Rose captured our hearts in a way very few beings do,” Itani said Friday. “Monty will be very sorely missed.”
Chicago Tribune’s Morgan Greene contributed.