For the seventh consecutive year, a pair of peregrine falcons is nesting atop Great River Energy’s Elk River Energy Recovery Station.
The adult male falcon, named Sawatzke, returned for the second year in 2013. Along with female Mary Ellen, they laid three eggs with two of them hatching in late May.
The new arrivals, each called an eyas, were banded on June 20 by Amy Ries of the Decorah, Iowa-based Raptor Resource Project , www.raptorresource.org. The eyasses were brought to the ground, examined for health and sex, and had aluminum identification bands attached to their legs. The band numbers will be recorded in the Midwest Peregrine Database, www.Midwestperegrine.org, so they can be tracked in the future. Along with receiving bands, the eyasses were named by children attending the banding. The female was named Patricia, and the male was named Lucky.
Power plants are uniquely suited to hosting peregrine nests, according to GRE. The height of facilities, the generally open area where plants are sited and proximity to rivers provide beneficial places to host nesting boxes.
Peregrine falcons are considered a threatened species, having been upgraded from the endangered list after the population was significantly degraded by the use of the pesticide DDT in the 1960s. Due to repopulation efforts such as the one in Elk River, the population has significantly rebounded.
There have been 19 eyasses that fledged in Elk River since the project began in 2006. In addition to banding and tracking, presentations are delivered at schools in the metro area to educate students about GRE peregrine falcons, and other environmental issues.