Thursday, July 9, 2015

Peregrine falcon Class of 2015

It was another banner year for the company’s peregrine falcon program. A total of 16 chicks were born at company power plants, and two “adopted” chicks were placed at one of our sites.


Here’s the rundown from all six company nest boxes:

Pleasant Prairie Power Plant
Olivia and PBR laid four eggs between March 26 and April 1. Only two of their eggs hatched. Sharkie and Thunder Claw were named and banded on May 28. Third graders from Stocker Elementary School in Kenosha attended the banding and named the chicks.

Oak Creek Power Plant
Eclipse and Scott laid four eggs between March 27 and April 3. Unfortunately, none of the eggs hatched. They were left unprotected while mom and dad battled an intruding falcon who tried taking over the site. But Eclipse and Scott still got to care for two young. Peregrine Manager Greg Septon transplanted two chicks from another site to Oak Creek after their dad was found injured and unable to help care for the chicks. Foster and Wheeler were named by power plant employees when they were banded on May 28.

Port Washington Generating Station
Brinn and Ives laid four eggs between March 28 and April 4. All four eggs hatched, and the young were banded on June 3. Veterans from the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight program and employees’ families attended the banding and named the chicks – Norman, Spikey, Suzie and LoriAnn.

Valley Power Plant
Hercules and an unbanded female laid four eggs between March 27 and April 3. All four eggs hatched, and the young were banded on June 1. Fifth graders from Carollton Elementary School in Oak Creek attended the banding and named the chicks after gases from the period table – Argon, Radon, Xenon and Krypton.

Milwaukee County Power Plant
A banded female from Ohio and Asa laid four eggs between April 14 and 21. Three of the eggs hatched, and the young were banded on June 16. The chicks were named Artemis, Busby and Murdock.

Presque Isle Power Plant
Maya Angelou and an unbanded male laid three eggs between April 15 and 21. All three eggs hatched, and the young were banded on June 14. Plant employees and their families attended the banding and named the chicks – Wompus, Seppie and Spencer.

More than 200 peregrine falcons have been born at We Energies power plants. Our company was one of the first to get involved in Wisconsin’s peregrine falcon recovery effort. Although much progress has been made, the peregrine remains listed as an endangered species in both Wisconsin and Michigan.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Crew assists osprey banding in Fox Valley

Line mechanics use a bucket truck to access 
the nest.
We have a strong, deep-rooted belief that we have a responsibility to our environment, especially to threatened and endangered birds in Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Our most famous birds, the peregrine falcons, can be viewed on live webcams from the first egg laid to when they first take flight. However, we also assist the lesser-known ospreys in growing their populations in our service territory.

Ospreys are large raptors that are listed as a “special concern” in Wisconsin. Osprey populations in Wisconsin declined from the 1950s to early 1970s after a loss of natural nesting habitats of trees along lakeshores. Special concern means that although the animal may not be endangered or threatened, a unique or highly specific habitat may be needed to help it survive.

Ospreys build nests in high structures such as tall trees near water, but a decline of such trees is making another location attractive for the birds – transmission power line towers. The problem is that sticks can fall from the 200-pound nests, causing service interruptions, and the birds could be electrocuted. Over the years, we have been constructing nest structures near our poles and transferring nests to the much higher and safer structures. In Wisconsin, more that 80 percent of the osprey population nests on artificial structures and platforms, most of which are built by utility companies.

Recently, we participated in a banding to identify and track some osprey chicks in Weyauwega and New London. Line mechanics Justin Stanke and Mark Rathje used a bucket truck to access the nests. In New London, we found three chicks in Memorial Park. Stanke and Rathje carefully retrieved them from the nest and carried them to the ground to be weighed and banded. Banding helps keep track of their wintering locations as well as their longevity. Most ospreys winter in Central and South America

“These bandings just make my year,” said Patricia Fisher, owner of the Feather Wildlife Rehab/Education Center in New London, who coordinates the bandings.

Doc Musekamp holds an osprey during banding.
Local volunteers with Fisher’s organization obtain federal bird banding permits to conduct the bandings. This year, Fisher obtained color bands that are easier to identify when birds are in the air. The bands have special meaning to Fisher as they were purchased in the memory of her granddaughter who passed away in a car accident a few years ago.

Those watching the banding were excited and mesmerized by the chicks. Doc Musekamp from our Appleton office was able to hold a bird during the process.

“It was an overall amazing experience to just feel them in your hands. This really is a neat collaboration that We Energies supports,” said Musekamp.

More about our biodiversity initiative

Feather Wildlife Rehab/Education Center

Appleton Post Crescent story

WLUK Fox11 video

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Power plant falcons fly the coop

Artemis, Busby and Murdock at Milwaukee County 
Power Plant nest box.
Most of the peregrine falcon chicks born at our power plant nest boxes
this spring have fledged.

There are empty nest boxes in Pleasant Prairie, Oak Creek, Port Washington and Milwaukee at our Valley Power Plant.

But you still have a little time to watch the remaining chicks at two other sites. Our live falcon cam is focused on the Milwaukee County Power Plant in Wauwatosa where Artemis, Busby
and Murdock are getting ready to fledge. They’re expected to take flight around July 2.

Chicks remain at our power plant in Marquette, Michigan, as well. Seppie, Wompus and Spencer also are expected to leave their nest box at our Presque Isle Power Plant around July 2. Hourly photos are available from their nest box at the link below.

Live falcon cam

Hourly photos

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Artemis: Goddess of the hunt and We Energies falcon

Nina Marks meets Artemis, held by Greg Septon
Artemis, Greek goddess of the hunt, is a perfect name for a bird of prey like the peregrine falcon. That name was chosen by 11-year-old Nina Marks, a special guest at a falcon banding at Milwaukee County Power Plant in Wauwatosa. 

Busby, Artemis and Murdock
Artemis has two brothers -- Busby and Murdock. The three were our final falcons to be named and banded this season. Murdock was named by employees at the power plant.

Busby was named by Peregrine Manager Greg Septon, in honor of his close friend, John Busby, who recently passed away. Busby was a wildlife artist whose work included peregrine falcon paintings and drawings.

A total of 16 peregrine falcon chicks were born at six of our power plants this year. In addition, two chicks were transferred from another Milwaukee-area site to our Oak Creek Power Plant after their father was found injured.

We have been involved in peregrine falcon recovery since the early 1990s. More than 200 falcons have been born at our power plants.

Learn more about our peregrine falcon program

Monday, June 15, 2015

Presque Isle Power Plant falcon named after peregrine manager

Seppie, Wompus and Spencer
Seppie, Wompus and Spencer are the latest We Energies power plant falcons to be named and banded. Our peregrine manager, Greg Septon, retrieved the chicks from their nest box atop our Presque Isle Power Plant in Marquette, Michigan on Saturday. Power plant employees and their families were invited to watch Septon band the peregrine chicks and suggest names for the birds. Seppie was chosen in honor of Septon, who’s been managing our peregrine falcon recovery program since the early 1990s. Septon monitors our six nesting sites and nearly two dozen others throughout Wisconsin.

Peregrine falcon webcams


Thursday, June 4, 2015

Adopted falcon chicks named and banded at Oak Creek Power Plant

Foster and Wheeler 
Two peregrine falcon chicks that were transplanted to our Oak Creek Power Plant from a separate site were named and banded. The chicks were moved to the We Energies nest from St. Joseph’s Hospital after their father, Herbert, was injured and unable to help his mate DJ with the care of his four chicks. In Herbert’s absence, DJ was left alone to do the job of both parents. Peregrine falcons take turns incubating eggs, hunting and feeding the young.

For the best survival of the chicks, Peregrine Falcon Manager Greg Septon transported two of Herbert’s chicks to our Oak Creek Power Plant to be cared for by female Eclipse and male Scott. This spring, Eclipse and Scott incubated four eggs at the site, but they never hatched. Another falcon tried taking over the nest box, and the territorial battle left the eggs unattended too often. Now, Eclipse and Scott have adopted two of Herbert and DJ’s chicks as their own.

Jon Anderson and Brian Hunt, workers at Oak Creek Power Plant, assisted in last week’s banding. They were aware of the chick’s story and were happy to hear the adult falcons took the hatchlings “under their wing.” They thought the adults made excellent foster parents; hence the name Foster was given to one of the female chicks. The workers named Foster’s sister Wheeler. The steam generators at Oak Creek Power Plant were manufactured by a company called Foster Wheeler Corporation and “Wheeler” just seemed like a good fit.

Wheeler and Foster’s brothers at the St. Joseph’s Hospital site recently were banded and received the names of Jack and Harrison.

All chicks are thriving and should be ready to fly out of the nest in a few weeks.

Peregrine falcon webcams

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

WWII veterans watch falcons get wildlife bands

WWII veteran Chuck Franzke and his wife, Bev.
Chuck Franzke of Waukesha used to fly torpedo bombers during WWII. The former Navy pilot can relate to the peregrine falcons that nest at our power plants. Franzke shared memories Wednesday 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.

WWII veteran Norman Jagow.
Franzke and fellow veteran Norman Jagow were special guests at our Port Washington power plant. They watched as falcon chicks from the plant’s nest box received their wildlife bands. Peregrine Manager Greg Septon banded four young – two
males and two females.

Jagow now has a bond with one of
the chicks, which was named
Norman in his honor. The other
chicks were named Spikey, LoriAnn and Suzie.

Veterans with the Stars and Stripes Honor Flight organization have a special tie to our Port Washington power plant. Wisconsin’s WWII         Pillar of Honor stands outside the plant at Coal Dock Park as a tribute to all Wisconsin veterans.

We Energies is a longtime partner and sponsor of Stars and Stripes Honor Flight.

Norman, Spikey, Suzie and LoriAnn.
WWII Pillar of Honor at Coal Dock Park 
in Port Washington.