A pair of peregrine falcons are once again attempting to raise young at a box high up on Xcel Energy’s Allen S. King Plant in Bayport, along the St. Croix.
Starting on April 25, the female bird has laid four eggs. The male and female are taking turns sitting on them while they develop. Chicks usually hatch in late May.
A camera next to the nest gives 24/7 views of life high above the river. View it here.
Nest-watchers who use a forum on Raptor Resource Project’s website provide egg updates and otherwise discuss life for the birds.
Nest boxes are installed on four Xcel towers in the state, at a height of 300 to 600 feet above the ground. Peregrines’ natural hunting strategy is to perch on cliffs and watch for prey below — often ducks and other birds — and then dive at its target.
“Peregrine falcons find the boxes installed on power plant stacks attractive as nesting sites because they offer some of the same features as the high cliffs, which they naturally prefer,” Xcel says.
The King Plant’s nest box is 400 feet above the ground, halfway up the smokestack.
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A nest box was first placed on the King Plant in 1990, making it the first such site in the nation. Today, 71 young peregrines have been bred at the site. The birds were nearly wiped out by the use of the pesticide DDT in the 1960s, but were brought back to good population numbers after the chemical was banned.
Last spring, the first peregrine pair to nest at a natural location along the St. Croix since the 1950s was observed north of Stillwater.