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For the last 14 years, a pair of migrating Peregrine falcons has been returning to a nesting platform 220 feet up on a 350-foot stack at Minnesota Power’s Boswell Energy Center near Grand Rapids, Minn., to raise their offspring.

Back in ’91, in an effort to help preserve this endangered raptor, Minnesota Power employees at Boswell installed a nesting platform on a stack. In ’92, a lone male — ultimately named Bandit—found refuge on the nest, and in ’93, Bandit and a female dubbed Skydancer raised two chicks in the nest, the first ever in Itasca County. Since then, 41 chicks have been raised on the platform.

Skydancer did not return to the nest in ’01. We speculate that she most likely died, as a Peregrine’s life span is about 10 years. Bandit found a new mate that was later named WindSong by several Minnesota Power customers who took part in a naming contest. WindSong and Bandit raised four chicks their first year together, and three chicks the second year. We expect Bandit and WindSong to begin sitting on eggs sometime in April. The eggs usually hatch some time in early May. The proud parents will raise them at the Boswell nest through the summer. Chicks are banded when they’re three to four weeks old for tracking purposes.

Peregrines, the fastest raptor on earth, migrate in winter vacation spots from Little Rock, Ark., to the tip of Argentina. Sometimes, Peregrines will winter at a power plant if there is enough open water and an adequate nearby food supply, such as pigeons.
Peregrines seek private, high, out-of-the-way homes for nesting, mating and pursuing their prey. In the last few years, about 50 percent of all Peregrine chicks born in the upper Midwest were hatched at secluded homes atop stacks at power plants. The electric industry has played a key role in Peregrine falcon recovery efforts here in Minnesota and the upper Midwest. And, for the first time since 1960, Peregrines are now returning to breed on high cliffs throughout Minnesota, a more natural habitat.
We expect a pair of Peregrines to find Boswell Energy Center home for years to come.
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