Crews banding baby peregrine falcons at Ottawa Co. power plant

Posted at 11:50 AM, Jun 02, 2017

WEST OLIVE, Mich. - A baby Peregrine Falcon took an unexpected first flight during a banding exercise put on by Consumers Energy and the Michigan Dept. of Natural Resources.

Peregrine falcons have been gravel nesting 200 ft. up on the side of an emission stack at Consumer's Energy JH Campbell Generating Complex in Ottawa Co. Since 1995. Every year DNR biologists have been banding the young chicks with color-coordinated tags to study migration patterns and life span. Friday, one chick left the nest in a hurry during a banding exercise. The experience gave FOX 17 a closeup photo opportunity.

Nick Kalejs, a wildlife biologist with the Michigan DNR said the chick is about 35-40 days old, which made the banding process difficult. After successfully capturing the bird with his hands on the roof of the power plant, Kalejs and his crew were able to band the bird and return it safely to the nest.

"We found out there were two non-viable eggs and the falcon, we thought we had in a certain age range but it was older than we expected," Kalejs said. "A camera would certainly be a nice tool to get a good estimate on the hatching date."

Kalejs said Peregrine populations are on the rise but they're still considered an endangered species in Michigan, which is why banding is such an important process for research.

"Since 2003 We've banded about 80 Peregrine Falcons here in West Michigan between our two power plants," said Roger Morgenstern, Sr. Public Information Director for Consumers. "We're one of the largest land owners in the state of Michigan and we're very lucky to interact with nature on a daily basis."