Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Crews install osprey platform in Fremont

Osprey on a utility pole.
A pair of ospreys in the Fox Valley has a new option to call home. Our crews recently installed a nesting platform near Fremont, Wisconsin, giving the pair a safer option than their original preference – atop one of our utility poles. 

Ospreys frequently attempt to nest on top of our power poles, which can result in power outages and harm to the ospreys. In this case, we were able to work with a local wildlife organization, The Feather, and a
private landowner to secure a site
for a nesting platform.
Drilling hole for osprey platform pole.

Ospreys are 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 have installed dozens of osprey platforms since the late 1980s.

There’s no guarantee the pair will find and use the new platform, but
it’s ready for them come nesting

Photos courtesy of The Feather.

Erecting the pole with platform.
Mike Haak and Tim Bristol, We Energies line mechanics.

Friday, September 18, 2015

2015 nesting season report posted

The We Energies Peregrine Falcon 2015 Nesting Season Report is now available on our website. The report, written by our Peregrine Manager Greg Septon, recaps nesting activity at all of our power plant nest boxes where 16 falcons were produced this year.

The report also provides some nesting updates for peregrine falcons at other locations, provided they were hatched in one of our nest boxes in the past. In addition, the report contains historical production data for our sites as well as total 2015 production for all of Wisconsin.

2015 Peregrine Falcon Nesting Season Report

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