For sixth year in a row, peregrines are nesting at Elk River power plant

by Joni Astrup

Associate editor

Peregrine falcons —the world’s fastest bird — are nesting high above the Great River Energy (GRE) campus in Elk River this spring.

Dot, a female peregrine falcon, nested last year at Great River Energy in Elk River. A new pair is nesting there this spring. (file photo)

Three peregrine eggs have been laid in a nesting box at the GRE power plant overlooking the Mississippi River. This is the sixth year in a row peregrines have nested there.

This year’s falcons are new to the site, according to GRE’s website.

The male falcon’s name is Sawatzke. He was banded at the Monticello Nuclear Generating Plant in 2009. The female falcon is unbanded.

She laid one egg on April 25, a second on April 27 and a third on April 29.

“We believe they are done laying eggs, but they may surprise us,” said Jennifer Howell, a GRE spokesperson. She said it’s estimated the eggs will hatch the last week of May.

A “bird cam” keeps tabs on the nest box. To see the birds, go to

A Boy Scout built the original nesting box at GRE as part of his Eagle Scout project in 2006. The box was replaced in 2010 as a local Elk River student’s 4-H project.

The power plant is located at 17845 Highway 10.