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Kids, and web views, flock to birds of a feather at We Energies' Oak Creek plant

Four male peregrine falcons banded and named at power plant

We Energies peregrine manager Greg Septon (left) and environmentalist Mike Grisar hold peregrine falcon chicks for viewing in the We Energies Oak Creek power plant on Monday, June 2 .

We Energies peregrine manager Greg Septon (left) and environmentalist Mike Grisar hold peregrine falcon chicks for viewing in the We Energies Oak Creek power plant on Monday, June 2 . Photo By Peter Zuzga

June 3, 2014

Oak Creek — After weeks of watching peregrine falcon fledglings through a live web stream, a fourth-grade class from Franklin got to see the chicks up close and personal this week.

They were on hand Monday, June 2, at We Energies when peregrine manager Greg Septon banded the fledglings, which hatched during Mother's Day weekend, and took DNA samples from the birds.

It's part of an ongoing effort by We Energies to offset the losses sustained by the peregrine population as a result of dangerous pesticides decade ago. And We Energies made it clear to the students that officials only have the falcons' well-being in mind by banding them.

"With the banding efforts that we do, we never do anything that hurts the (falcons) but that is helping the peregrine population," said Mike Grisar, ecologist for We Energies, who worked with Septon to band the falcons.

We Energies built nest boxes atop all six of its power plant sites as part of its conservation plan. Live cameras were installed three years ago in the nest boxes and are turned on every spring to capture footage of nesting season.

Earlier, Septon had visited a classroom at Country Dale Elementary to educate students about the falcons' history in Wisconsin and introduce them to the live webstream. Septon's daughter is a member of the fourth-grade class.

"I like the fact that you can be so close to them instead of just watching on a camera," said fourth-grader Jack Norgaard.

Falcons are banded when their legs are at full maturity, between 18 and 24 days old. That's also when falcon managers can discern their sex.

"We have a six-day window; otherwise they are too old," Septon said.

Students named the four male falcons Franklin, Cliff, Flash and Hunter.

Student Andrew Myers came up with the name Flash because peregrines can fly as fast as 200 miles per hour, according to FalconCam.Travelers.com.

Once the falcons are banded and able to fly, it can be up to three years before they return to a nest box, said Grisar.

The fledglings' parents are Eclipse, who is a female from Ohio. The male, Scott, was hatched in West Milwaukee.

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