MARQUETTE — This past weekend WE Energies in Marquette banded three peregrine falcon chicks.
The chicks are banded with two different bands on their ankles that have specific numbers on them to help handlers track them when they fly the coop. WE Energies started breeding and banding peregrines in the late eighties when they were near extinction.
They were near extinction because shortly after World War II a chemical called DDT was used to kill insects on crops. It did it’s job but also damaged the food chain.
Peregrine Manager and Researcher Greg Septon says, “It didn’t kill them directly, but the smaller birds that would eat the insects would build up these toxins and then the peregrine’s, of course, would capture the small birds and prey upon them, and they had super concentrated levels of these toxins, and again it didn’t kill the peregrine falcons out-right, but it did cause them to lay thin-shelled eggs, which crushed while the females were incubating, so by 1964 the eastern race of the peregrine falcon was gone.”
The chemical DDT is now banned. Septon says that the Upper Peninsula is a great area for peregrines to live.
Septon added, “Here living along the coast of the southern shore of Lake Superior is actually a fantastic place for them. Peregrines are attracted to shore lines, attracted to very tall cliffs or human-made cliffs-i.e. power plants, tall buildings and so on.”
Septon adds that peregrines are attracted to any power plants near a shore, and where there are nest boxes. Sometimes the falcons decide to stay here in the Upper Peninsula around the energy plants or cliffs near water. Sometimes you could spot them at the plant or at LaBonte Park near the plant. The plant had a little fun naming the chicks. The names were decided by drawing submissions from the crowd from a hat. The chicks were named Seppie, Spencer and Wompus.