Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Video clips of 2014 peregrine falcon chick activities

Peregrine Falcon Manager Greg Septon used a GoPro video cam to record some activities with the falcon chicks this season. The clips show Septon retrieving the falcons, banding them, taking blood samples and returning them to their nest boxes.

Monday, August 4, 2014

As the falcon flies – Like father, like son

If you’ve ever wondered what can be gained from falcon banding, here’s an interesting story.

Our peregrine manager, Greg Septon, has made an interesting discovery about the new resident male at our Valley Power Plant. He’d been trying to track this peregrine falcon for some time, unsuccessfully. But now, the mystery is solved.

Recently, Greg was finally able to read the bird’s band number: (b/r) 60/H. The falcon is otherwise known as Hercules. Turns out, Hercules was produced just a couple years ago at the St. Joe’s Hospital nest box in Milwaukee, so he hasn’t strayed far from his birth place.

But there’s an even better twist. Hercules is the offspring of another falcon who was born at the Valley Power Plant. Greg banded Hercules’ dad, Herbert, at our Valley plant back in 2004. So, one of Herbert’s sons is now occupying the same nest box where his father was produced a decade ago. Like father, like son!

Here’s Hercules at Milwaukee’s Valley Power Plant:

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Line crew assists in osprey banding

Whenever ospreys use our distribution structures for their nests, our field crews often construct taller (and presumably better) alternative nesting structures for the birds nearby. This helps prevent the sticks that fall from osprey nests from causing electrical service interruption and reduces the risk of a bird being electrocuted. Ospreys currently use more than 25 platforms that we erected in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

Recently, one of our line crews assisted an osprey banding on the Wolf River near Weyauwega, Wisconsin, as reported by the Appleton Post Crescent.

Appleton Post Crescent video

The Feather Wildlife Rehab/Education Center photos

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Final falcon banding of season

Noel and Juneau are the last two falcons to be named and banded this season at our power plants. The chicks received names and wildlife bands Monday at the Port Washington Generating Station in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

Noel is named after longtime employee Noel Cutright who died in November. Cutright was a senior terrestrial ecologist with our company for 29 years and led our efforts in reintroducing peregrines. He served as past president of the Wisconsin Society for Ornithology and was the founder of the Western Great Lakes Bird and Bat Observatory. Cutright never missed a banding at the Port Washington plant, which was not far from his home in Saukville.

Juneau was named by Parker Septon, daughter of Peregrine Manager Greg Septon. She recently learned about Alaska in school and named the falcon after the state’s capital city.

Other guests at Monday’s banding included Gene Schulz and Chuck Franzke, World War II veterans from the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program. Schulz was drafted into the Army in 1943 and was awarded the Bronze Star medal for his service. He later wrote a book, “The Ghost in General Patton’s Third Army.” Franzke was a Navy pilot who flew a torpedo bomber during WWII. He shared memories about the difficulty of landing on an air carrier, relating it to the flight of a peregrine falcon swooping 200-miles an hour for prey.

Ozaukee Press story

Monday, June 16, 2014

Injured falcon takes flight

June 28, 2014 update: Madame X released to wild in Horicon.
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel story and video

June 16, 2014

When she was found shot in February, peregrine falcon Madame X was thought to be unlikely to ever fly again. She had several shotgun pellets lodged in her body and had a broken coracoid (collar bone), a devastating injury for a bird.

But Madame X is beating the odds. Her broken bone has healed, and she can fly. That is the latest update from the Wisconsin Humane Society’s Wildlife Rehabilitation Center, which captured a video of the bird practicing on a flight tether (see below).

The We Energies Foundation donated $2,500 toward Madame X’s recovery because she has a special tie to We Energies. Before she was shot, she called the Milwaukee County Power Plant (MCPP) home. Last spring, she produced three young at the site – Abigail, Vita and Stella – in MCPP’s first successful peregrine nest.

Throughout her recovery, Madame X has continued to surprise the staff at the Wildlife Rehabilitation Center. First, they were impressed by her hearty appetite and feistiness. Now, they are fascinated by her flying ability. Her prognosis for release has been upgraded from “fair” to “good.”

Unfortunately, the news is not as good regarding the investigation of this case. No arrests have been made. Shooting a peregrine falcon is a serious crime, punishable by jail time and fines. A $10,000 reward has been offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction. Madame X was found at 2 p.m. on Feb. 27 in a yard outside the Cocktails and Dreams tavern at 55th and Grant streets in West Allis, Wisconsin. Anyone with information is asked to call West Allis Crime Stoppers at: 414-476-CASH (2274).

WTMJ-TV4 story

WRC video of Madame X flying practice:


Herman, Aurora and Bullet join We Energies falcon family

Herman, Aurora and Bullet are the latest falcons to be named and banded at one of our power plants.

Employees from the Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan, brought their families to Saturday’s banding event and submitted names for the birds. They even named the chicks’ mom -- Maya Angelou. She had previously been referred to as *P/*S, her banding identification tag from her birth site in Grand Haven, Michigan.

Banding visitors also had the opportunity to see an adult peregrine up close. Phoenix, one of the first falcons produced at the Presque Isle Power Plant in 2012, came back for a cameo. Phoenix now lives at the Chocolay Raptor Center because she would not be able to survive in the wild; she lost an eye and was found near death before being saved by the center.

Our power plant falcon bandings are drawing to a close with the chicks at our Port Washington Power Plant the final hatchlings yet to be named and banded.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Three more peregrine falcons banded, named

Beasley, Kozmo and Mimi are the names of the peregrine falcon chicks recently hatched and banded at our Milwaukee County Power Plant.

Peregrine Manager Greg Septon banded the chicks this morning. Guests from the Schlitz Audubon and Riveredge nature centers were on hand to witness the banding and name the birds. We auctioned off VIP banding visits for both nature centers at fundraising events. Winning bidders donated money to the nature centers for the unique chance to witness a falcon banding in person. 

Justin Machata won his banding visit through Schlitz Audubon Nature Center. He helped Septon band a male falcon, which he named Beasley after the family’s dog. Todd Firer won his visit through Riveredge Nature Center and also named a falcon after a pet, Kozmo, the family’s deceased golden retriever. Employees at the power plant named the last chick of the group, Mimi, the lone female.

Beasley, Kozmo and Mimi can now be seen on our live falcon cam at www.we-energies.com/falcons.