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.

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: