A pair of adult peregrine falcons recently returned to the nesting box located at Elk River Energy Recovery Station, a renewable power plant in Elk River, Minn. Mary Ellen and Brooklyn are the same adults that nested in the box last year.
At the time of publication, the pair had produced four eggs. The eggs are expected to hatch between April 29 and May 1. Since Great River Energy first installed the nesting box, 28 eyasses (young falcons) have fledged from the nesting box.
Power plants are uniquely suited to hosting peregrine falcon nests. The height of facilities, the generally open areas where plants are sited, and proximity to rivers make them optimal nesting sites.
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.
Falcons hatched in the nesting box are banded and tracked through the Midwest Peregrine Database. Great River Energy employees also regularly educate area students about peregrine falcons and other environmental topics.