Oak Creek — All four falcon eggs have hatched on We Energies' live webcam as of Tuesday at its Oak Creek power plant. Residents are encouraged to watch and follow the hatchlings from their home computer.
We Energies installed live cameras three years ago and have turned them on every spring during nesting season when endangered peregrine falcons hatch at the plant's nest boxes.
There are currently 23 eggs at all six We Energies nesting sites. "We've had 191 chicks produced at We Energies facilities," said We Energies spokeswoman Cathy Schulze. "By the end of this nesting season, if mother nature cooperates, we should break the 200 mark."
Once the chicks are born, mother and father peregrine falcons will be present continuously to feed and protect their young. At three weeks, We Energies' peregrine manager, Greg Septon, will tag the young to track the peregrine's population and migration patterns. Septon also visits local schools with the falcons.
At one time, the 200-mile stretch of the Mississippi River between Dubuque, Iowa, and Red Wing, Minnesota, had one of the highest densities of nesting peregrines in eastern North America with 27 recorded nesting sites, according to the "Peregrine Falcon History in Wisconsin" video on YouTube.
Wide use of pesticides, however, nearly wiped out the species in the 1950s and 60s. The bird is now "returning to us in Wisconsin in places you'd least expect them," Schulze said.
Peregrines have historically nested on cliff sides overlooking rivers. With the disappearance of falcons' natural habitat in some parts of Wisconsin, experts found that they flocked to nesting boxes on man-made cliffs — mainly high-rise buildings or power plants.
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