How are the Minnesota Power plant peregrines doing? 'Thriving'
Raptor Research Project experts report that falcon chicks atop power plant stacks are "well-fed, healthy and nearly ready to take flight."
DULUTH — Sometimes a FalconCam isn't good enough: You just have to climb up there and check on the chicks yourself.
That's what teams from the Raptor Research Project and Minnesota Power did recently, climbing stacks at Duluth's Hibbard Renewable Energy Center and Cohasset's Boswell Energy Center to pop in on the peregrine falcon families nesting there as part of a long-running effort to preserve the region's raptor populations.
The teams descended to file a glowing report. "Three chicks hatched at each site this spring and all six appeared well-fed, healthy and nearly ready to take flight," according to a news release from Minnesota Power.
Typically, the teams that visit newborn chicks each spring band the birds' legs for tracking purposes. This year, that was complicated by an outbreak of avian influenza.
The Cohasset birds were successfully banded, but a moratorium on bird handling was still in effect last month when the researchers dropped in on the Duluth chicks — who will thus be flying below the radar, so to speak, when they take off this summer.
Local schoolkids have named all six chicks. Cohasset Elementary School students named the Boswell chicks Frightful, Hawkeye and Tiberius. The latter is neither a reference to ancient history, as in Rome, nor to future history, as in "Star Trek": It's inspired by the hawk voiced by Albert Brooks in the movie "The Secret Life of Pets."
STARBASE Duluth program participants gave the Hibbard chicks the less imperious names of Agrios, Flecha and Louis.
Over the years, a lot of hawks have grown up on the stacks. According to the news release, "more than 35 chicks have hatched at Hibbard and more than 85 have hatched at Boswell since nest boxes were installed at the two sites." To see for yourself what's up — literally — visit mnpower.com/falconcam.