Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Falcon eggs present at 4 sites

Peregrine falcon eggs at Pleasant
Prairie Power Plant's nest box.
Peregrine falcon nesting season is in full swing with eggs now present at four of our nest boxes. This picture was taken this morning at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant.

Three eggs have been laid at the Pleasant Prairie nest box over the past few days with a fourth still expected, which would achieve a full clutch.

Eggs also are present at our Oak Creek, Valley (Milwaukee) and Port Washington power plants. The incubation period lasts approximately 30 days. Once the eggs start hatching, you’ll again be able to follow the action via our live webcam at we-energies.com/falcons.

An adult falcon protecting an egg at Valley Power Plant.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

First peregrine egg of season

A sure sign of spring is the first peregrine falcon egg of the season, which has appeared at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant.

Peregrine Manager Greg Septon captured this shot through the site’s nest box camera. He’s hoping for three more eggs at Pleasant Prairie over the next couple days. Septon has spotted eggs at four other nesting sites in the state, but this is the first at a We Energies facility. We’re anticipating eggs at five other power plants as well.

The resident adults at Pleasant Prairie are believed to be Olivia, who is new to the site, and PBR, who has been at the site for four years. Four chicks hatched at the site last year – Buddy, Shadow, Rio and Skittles. They were named by a class of fourth-grader students from Whittier Elementary School in Pleasant Prairie, who visited the power plant on a field trip to see the birds get their wildlife bands.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Falcon arrives at Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette

An adult female peregrine was perched in front of her nest box yesterday at Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan, and was identified as (b/g) *P/*S, produced in 2008 at the Grand Haven L. and P. Sims Plant in Grand Haven, Michigan. She is back for her fifth year.

Last year, she was first sighted at the plant on March 6. In prior years, an adult male was on site around the third week of February but thus far, no male has been seen here.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Early spring nesting report

Over the past five weeks or so, Peregrine Manager Greg Septon has been watching the nest box webcams nearly every day and is getting an idea of where we’re headed for the 2015 nesting season.

“As expected, a number of peregrines overwintered again, and several are at the same sites where they have nested for many years,” says Septon. “But it also appears that we’ll also see some new falcons this year as they replace peregrines that have been lost.”

The first two weeks of March always bring an increase of activity at nest sites as peregrines return from migration, vie for territory and begin egg laying, according to Septon. With temperatures expected to rise to the mid- to upper 40s next week, falcon nesting activity should increase as well.

Following are condensed notes from webcam observations at our power plant nest sites since late January:

Olivia (b/r) 00/Y at PPPP nest box.
Pleasant Prairie Power Plant
Adult male PBR (b/r) 07/B, who has nested here since 2012, has likely been present all winter again. His bands were read Jan. 26. Also identified was adult female Olivia (b/r) 00/Y on that same date, and both have been observed regularly since then. Olivia nests at the Kenosha Hospital but spends parts of her winters at the PPPP site. She usually leaves and returns to the hospital site as soon as the resident female Thilmany (b/g) 44/N returns and chases her off. Last year, Thilmany returned on March 8, but there has been no sign of her yet, so it is not known if she survived the winter. Not known which falcon may end up nesting at PPPP this year. The first egg was laid at this site last year was on April 4.

Oak Creek Power Plant
Adult male Scott (b/g) M/Y was first observed Feb. 2 and seems to come and go. If he nests here this year, this will be Scott’s tenth year at OCPP. He'll also be 15 this year, making him the oldest known nesting male in Wisconsin. No female has been seen at this site yet, so it is unknown whether or not female Eclipse (b/r) 67/H, who nested at OCPP from 2011-2014, is still alive or whether she will be returning from wherever it is she may have overwintered. On March 4, a juvenile female peregrine, Rosalee (b/r) C/94, produced in 2014 at the MG&E nest site in Madison, was identified. Last year, the first egg here was laid on April 2.

Unbanded adult female at VAPP.
Valley Power Plant
An unbanded adult female peregrine was seen on Jan. 26, and she has been present on and off ever since. An unbanded adult female also has been seen at the nearby Veolia Water Milwaukee site and may be the same falcon seen at VAPP because the two sites are close to each other. An adult male that appears to have a b/r band also has been seen but not yet identified. The male here last year was Hercules (b/r) 60/H, and he might be back. This site failed last year as there was a turnover of adult females just before the eggs were due to hatch.

Suzuki (b/g) E/06 -- no federal band.
Milwaukee County Power Plant
Adult female (b/r) 33/U, who nested at MCPP last year, was identified Jan. 31. She also has been regularly observed at the UW-Milwaukee nest site throughout the winter, so she has been traveling between these two sites. On Feb. 8, Suzuki (b/g) E/06 was identified. Interestingly, Suzuki was identified at the MG&E nest site in Madison in 2010 and was missing his federal band (see image). Suzuki did not nest at MG&E that year.

(b/r) 33/U at MCPP nest box.
Between 2009-2011, the adult male at the Jefferson nest site (about 30 miles E/SE from the MG&E site) could not be identified. However, the adult male was banded b/g and clearly was missing a federal band in 2011. The Jefferson nest site failed (raccoon predation) in 2012 and 2013, and no band information was obtained. In 2014, one young produced at the Jefferson site was lost, and the adult male was not identified.

Although there is no way of knowing for sure, the adult male at the Jefferson site between 2009 - 2014 may have been Suzuki. If a site fails, the adult(s) sometimes moves on in search of greener pastures. Though uncertain, Suzuki may be trying a new site this year after three consecutive lost nests at Jefferson. Whatever the case, Suzuki has been present at MCPP regularly and bringing in prey for (b/r) 33/U, so it’s beginning to look like this pair may nest this year. The first egg was laid at this site last year on April 9.

Wildcat (b/r) 71/P at new PWGS nest box.
Port Washington Generation Station
This year, things have been very slow. So far, only one peregrine was seen perched in front of the new nest box. Wildcat, a male produced at Valley Power Plant in 2013, was identified Feb. 9. Last year, Ives (b/g) 78/N nested at the site and has nested at PWGS since 2007. Ives was first identified last year on March 20, so its anyone’s guess as to how things will proceed here this season as far as males go. The other unknown is whether or not female Brinn (b/r) 84/X, who nested here last year, will return. If she migrated this winter, she may be on her way back north, and if this is the case, she may be seen soon. The first egg was laid here on April 11 last year.

Presque Isle Power Plant, Marquette, Michigan
No peregrines have been seen so far this year. Last year, a male was first observed on Feb. 22, and an adult pair was present on March 6. If the unbanded adult male that nested here in previous years is gone, it may take some time for a new male to claim this territory. And if (b/g) P/Z, the female that has nested here since 2011 returns, she may have to attract a new male, which means that if a successful nest is made here this year, it will likely occur later in the nesting season. The first egg was laid here on April 14 last year.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Falcon activity picking up

We are in the dead of winter, but falcons at our power plant nest boxes already are thinking spring. 

Activity is picking up at several of our sites as adult peregrines unite with their mates for the nesting season. Peregrine Manager Greg Septon is keeping tabs on all the activity through our nest box webcams. 

This picture was captured at our Pleasant Prairie Power Plant. Last spring, falcons began laying eggs at our power plants in early April. As soon as nesting activity is in full swing, we’ll once again launch a live video stream so you can follow the activity online. Until then, hourly snapshots are available on our website.

Monday, December 22, 2014

New digs installed for peregrine falcons at 2 sites

New falcon nest boxes have been installed at two of our power plants. After years of exposure to the elements, the old nest boxes were in rough shape. This spring, the peregrines that return to nest at our Port Washington and Valley power plants will be living in style. Thanks to the following for their work on the projects:

Nest box construction: Henry Gutmann, Jon Schoenike
Welders: Dave Bachmann, Wayne Merkovich
Valley Power Plant: Mark Bauernfeind, Michael Donath, Bill Holton, John Mingesz
Port Washington Generating Station: Mark Chromy, Charles Griffith, Doug Herzog, Bill Holton, Steve Jagow, Kurt Kinowski
Webcams: Pete Dickinson, Mike Nuss

Port Washington Generating Station nest boxes before (left) and after.

Valley Power Plant nest boxes before (left) and after.

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.