Volunteers clean up Montrose Beach litter ahead of piping plover season

The birds are part of an endangered species, which surprised wildlife experts when they nested here in 2019.

Video Transcript

JESSE KIRSCH: On Montrose Beach today, dozens of volunteers searching the sands for pollution, getting this stretch of Lake Michigan shoreline ready for the homecoming of Monty and Rose, the piping plovers.

EDWARD WARDEN: There's only about 70 different pairs of them left in the wild, so every single individual nest and pair counts to the survival of the species.

JESSE KIRSCH: These birds, part of an endangered species, surprised wildlife experts like the Shedd Aquarium's Edward Warden when they nested here in 2019.

EDWARD WARDEN: They successfully hatched some eggs and reared some young chicks that year. While we were all shutting down for COVID, they showed up at the beach same place, same time and did it again.

JESSE KIRSCH: And now volunteers searching for dangerous waste, especially here on Montrose Beach's southern end, where Monty and Rose are expected back in just weeks.

NAIYA FAYAD: So I have a lot of caps. I have a lot of glass.

JESSE KIRSCH: 10-year-old Naiya Fayad and her eight-year-old brother George.

- I got a lot of wrappers and caps.

JESSE KIRSCH: Finding lots of debris this morning.

NAIYA FAYAD: I don't want to say this, but they could like, get sick and it's not really good for them to have plastic in their stomachs.

JESSE KIRSCH: Their mom disappointed to see how much trash litters Chicago's beaches.

MIRNA FAYAD: It's really sad and honestly, I think I could have stayed in just one section for the entire hour and continued to find little plastics that can harm the wildlife.

EDWARD WARDEN: We're talking about hundreds of other different bird species that use this site, several different species of plants, many of those endangered, and certainly our own drinking water here in Lake Michigan.

JESSE KIRSCH: Today's clean up hopefully making a difference not just for Monty and Rose, but for all of us.