Monday, May 2, 2016

Falcon chicks arrive at Oak Creek Power Plant

The first falcon eggs of the season are hatching at our power plants. On May 1, two eggs hatched at our Oak Creek nest box, and by Monday morning, a third chick had arrived. Our webcam captured the trio being fed. If you look closely at the fourth egg, you’ll notice another chick trying to break through:


This is welcome news for our Oak Creek site because last year’s nesting attempt here failed. Dad Scott and mom Eclipse had four eggs that never hatched. A territorial battle had left the eggs unattended for too long. The pair still got to be foster parents though, caring for two chicks transplanted from another site where a parent was injured. Herbert, another We Energies falcon, is now an educational ambassador at the Wisconsin Humane Society. His offspring, Foster and Wheeler, were banded at the Oak Creek Power Plant last June.

Foster and Wheeler after banding last June.
Meanwhile, we’re still hoping for hatchlings at our other sites. Eggs at our Valley Power Plant were expected to hatch last week, but so far, nothing has happened. Greg Septon, our peregrine manager, says several of the sites he monitors are hatching late this year, perhaps due to the cold weather. We’re hopeful that we’ll see chicks arrive at our Valley and Port Washington sties very soon. Hatching at our final two sites – Pleasant Prairie, Wisconsin, and Marquette, Michigan – is expected to occur a little later.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Watch our peregrine falcons on live webcam

Once again, you can watch our power plant falcons via live webcam. Our annual “falcon cam” has officially launched for the season at www.we-energies.com/falcons. The live feed is focused on our Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee where dad, “Hercules,” and mom, an unbanded female, have been incubating four eggs. They’re expected to start hatching any day now.


This year, we’re inviting the public to help name the chicks at our Valley Power Plant. Winners will get to visit the plant and see the chicks in person when they get their wildlife bands later this spring. Get details:


We also have nest boxes at power plants in Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, Port Washington – all in Wisconsin – and another one in Marquette, Michigan. Our live feed will switch between some of these sites, depending on activity in the nest boxes. Hourly photos also are available from each site. 

Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter, where we’ll post updates throughout the nesting season. You also can subscribe to this raptor blog and get updates sent right to your email inbox.

More than 220 peregrine falcons have been born at We Energies facilities since 1997, representing nearly 20 percent of Wisconsin’s peregrine population. But there’s still work to be done. Peregrines remain an endangered species in both Wisconsin and Michigan.

Name the chicks at our Valley Power Plant!

We have an “egg-cellent” idea. Naming a peregrine falcon chick is not something you get to do “aviary” day.

Do you have the right creative “talont” to win our naming contest?

Artemis, Wompus, Xenon and Thunder Claw are some of the names chosen for We Energies peregrines in the past. Can you top those?

This year, we’re inviting the public to enter our chick naming contest. Peregrine falcon chicks are expected to arrive soon at our Valley Power Plant in Milwaukee. Keep tabs on the nest box through our live falcon cam at we-energies.com/falcons.

You could just “wing” it, but we suggest you put a little thought into your selection.

Tell us in 100 words or less, why you chose the name. We’ll review all entries and select winners. The following criteria will be considered:

· Is the name creative?

· Is the name descriptive of a falcon?

· Is there a story behind the name?

· Is the name gender neutral?

(sex of chicks is not yet known)

Entries must be received by May 12. Send your entry to us at: contest@we-energies.com.

Winners will be announced on May 13. Entrants can only win once. Winners will be invited to the Valley Power Plant to see the chicks get their wildlife bands. The banding date will be determined by We Energies.

*There is no guarantee all the eggs will hatch or all the chicks will survive. Winning names will be given to the chicks who receive wildlife bands on banding day.

Friday, April 22, 2016

We Energies work with ospreys

April 22, 2016, marks the 46th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day was created by Gaylord Nelson, a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin. Nelson’s mission was not only to create awareness about air and water pollution but also to make environmental protection part of the national political agenda. His idea was a success, and as the years passed, his idea led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as well as the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species acts.

We are committed to practicing responsible environmental stewardship in the communities we serve. We’re helping protect several threatened and endangered species.

Ospreys

Ospreys frequently try to nest on top of our power poles, which can result in power outages and harm to the ospreys.

Since 1980, our field crews have constructed alternative nest structures for the birds, in areas where nests are known. Our crews have assisted private and public land owners in erecting nest structures in key habitat locations. We’ve helped install dozens of osprey platforms in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. These efforts have supported the recovery of ospreys, which now exceed more than 500 breeding pairs in Wisconsin alone.

Ospreys remain listed as a special concern species in Wisconsin after their population declined significantly in the 1950s and ‘60s due to widespread use of pesticides such as DDT.

We are working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to erect several new nest platforms in Racine and Kenosha counties on public lands near the Fox River. Ospreys have been observed frequenting these areas in recent years but have limited nesting opportunities. These additional platforms will aid overall osprey recovery.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Helping endangered peregrine falcons

Did you know endangered peregrine falcons have been calling our power plants home for more than two decades? In fact, we were one of the first companies to get involved in Wisconsin’s peregrine recovery effort.

Adult peregrine at Pleasant Prairie Power Plant.
Peregrines disappeared after the widespread use of pesticides such as DDT led to eggshell thinning. By 1964, they were virtually extinct east of the Mississippi River and in serious decline throughout the rest of the country.

Peregrine researcher Greg Septon approached We Energies in the early 1990s to see if we would sponsor the release of captive-produced peregrines. He also asked if we’d install a man-made nest box at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. We said yes to both. 

     Chicks at Valley Power Plant.
Historically, peregrines nested on cliffs along rivers and lakes. Septon suspected they would nest on our man-made “cliffs” along Lake Michigan. He was right. Peregrines moved into our power plant nest boxes and started producing young.

Today, we have nest boxes at five of our power plants in two states. All told, more than 220 young have hatched at our sites. But there’s still work to be done. Peregrines remain an endangered species in both Wisconsin and Michigan.

Learn more about our efforts at we-energies.com/falcons. We have videos about our program and an educational booklet for teachers to use in the classroom. On April 26, we’ll again be launching our live falcon cam, giving you a look inside our power plant nest boxes. Eggs should begin hatching at some of our sites later this month.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Falcon eggs at four power plants

Falcon incubating at Valley Power Plant
Activity is really picking up at our power plant nest boxes. Peregrine falcon nesting season is in full swing with eggs present at four of our sites. If all of them hatch, we’ll see 14 chicks in about three to four weeks. That would put our We Energies falcon total at nearly 240 over the past 20 years.

Greg Septon, our peregrine manager, gave us a rundown on activity at each of our sites:

Four eggs at Valley Power Plant.
Valley Power Plant – Dad Hercules and mom, an unbanded female, are incubating four eggs. They’re expected to hatch between April 26 and 28.

Oak Creek Power Plant – Dad Scott and mom Eclipse are incubating four eggs. They’re expected to hatch between April 29 and May1. 

Port Washington Generating Station – Dad Ives, and mom, banded as 91/P, are incubating three eggs. Estimated hatch dates: April 27 to 29. Septon is keeping a close eye on this site because he noticed the eggs were left unattended recently. This could mean the adults were trying to drive away an intruding falcon. Depending on how long the eggs were left unattended, they may be in jeopardy.

Territorial battle at Pleasant Prairie Power Plant March 12.
Pleasant Prairie Power Plant – Dad PBR and mom, an unbanded female who’s new to this site, are incubating three eggs. They’re expected to hatch between May 8 and 10. Septon captured this image through our nest box camera, showing a territorial battle between two female peregrines at the site on March 12. The unbanded female drove away T. Swift, produced in 2015 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 

Presque Isle Power Plant – There aren’t any eggs yet at this site. The same female is back for her sixth year, along with an unbanded male.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Injured falcon becomes educational ambassador

Herbert, a peregrine falcon, was born at our Valley Power Plant in 2004. He spent several years nesting at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Milwaukee, and will now live his remaining years as an educational ambassador at the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center.

Herbert was badly injured last year and despite months of rehabilitation – including surgery – he remains unable to fly. So now, Herbert will help raise awareness about his species, which remains listed as endangered in Wisconsin. 

Herbert was found injured in Wauwatosa last spring. Veterinarians at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center determined he had a dislocated elbow, but that wasn’t his only injury. An X-ray revealed a pellet embedded in his abdomen, which indicated Herbert previously had been shot but survived.

Scott Diehl from the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center invited us to visit Herbert recently. The once wild bird of prey now can sit quietly on the gloved hand of a trainer. It took months of hard work to get Herbert to this comfort level. With a bit more work, we’re told he’ll soon be ready for his debut in educational programs at the Wisconsin Humane Society. He joins other resident educational ambassadors such as Picasso, an eastern screech owl, and mallard ducks, Sonny and Cher.