Lansing’s Peregrine Falcons

Early this summer, while riding my bike to and from work between Lansing and East Lansing, I was stunned to see a falcon catching prey in midsection of Michigan Avenue. Since then, I have spotted them quite often hanging around the trees in my neighborhood. I remember reading about a nest several years ago at the Lansing Board of Water and Light (BWL) but had not connected the two.

Today, while browsing the BWL webpage, I cam across the FalconCam. This is one of the coolest things that has happened in Lansing, ever!

This is the Eckert BWL station in downtown Lansing:

eckert station lansing
The three blinking stacks are a staple of the Lansing night view. As a child my father always referred to them as Wynkin, Blynkin, and Nod. Later, once the internet cam into existance, I discovered this was from a poem of the same name by Eugene Field. Anyways…

In 2004, workers for the Eckert station of the BWL started sighting falcons hanging around the plant. Dina Maneval, a BWL employee, decided to bring in some binoculars and discovered that the falcons were actually nesting on the building’s catwalk.

falcons lansing bwl
Since then, Dina has spent her lunch hours photographing and documenting the progress of the falcons and their nests (the BWL even moved her livejournal blog about the birds to their own website).

falcons lansing
Apparently the peregrines will use the same nesting site year after year, and they mate for life, so the Eckert station seems to have become their site of choice.

The Lansing BWL has accepted the falcons and in 2007 even built them a nesting station. From the BWL website:

falcons nest board water light

In 2004, after we successfully fledged 2 of our 3 falcon chicks, our thoughts shifted to how to help them in years to come. Since the peregrine will use the same nesting site year after year, and they mate for life, there would be a good chance they would return to nest at BWL Eckert for many years to come. In the spring of 2006, Stelco, the female falcon, laid 5 eggs on the breaching near the roof of our 5th generating unit. However, those eggs did not hatch. While incubation was in progress and wishing we had a nesting box for her to use, we starting making plans to build a nesting box. On March 12, 2007 we placed our nesting box on the east most breaching of our 6th generating unit at Eckert. Ten days later on March 22nd, Stelco jumped into her new home happily. The summer of 2007 was again successful, Stelco laid 5 more eggs. But again, they did not hatch. In 2008, we raised the nesting box higher above the very hot breaching in hopes of helping the falcons have a successful brood.

In February 2008, the BWL installed webcams and have dedicated part of their website to the project. This year there were 5 fledglings hatched and raised. The first three named Winkin, Blinkin, Nod(After the stacks-yeah, it’s spelled wrong but you go tell the kids), Twinkle, and Sparty. Here is a cam photo timeline of this year’s fledlings:

peregrine falcons lansing
lansing bwl falcons
lansing falcons
lansing peregrine
lansing birds falcons
lansing peregrine nest

It would seem that all Five have officially fledged. As of today, the live FalconCam shows an empty nest.

The video archives of the falcons has an excellent video of a falcon eating a pigeon and a great courtship dance. I highly recommend looking through the webcam video and picture archives.

Kudos for Dina for bringing attention to these birds, kudos to the Lansing BWL for getting on board with this, and kudos for all the supporters for contributing to get the nest and webcams set up.

Looking forward to next year’s nesting.

Links about the falcons:

FalconCam Home
June 2008 LSJ Falcon Tagging Photo Gallery
September 2007 City Pulse Article
May 2007 City Pulse Article

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