ST. LOUIS, Mo. — Like swallows returning to Capistrano, a pair of peregrine falcons has again returned to a nesting box at Ameren Missouri's Sioux Energy Center in the St. Louis area. Through a cooperative effort, Ameren Missouri, the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), and the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) are providing the public with a third year of their online “FalconCam” for a bird’s-eye view of the peregrine falcons raising their chicks.
Falcon nesting activities can be viewed via the FalconCam from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. (CDT) seven days a week on MDC’s website at mdc.mo.gov/node/16934, on Ameren’s website at AmerenMissouri.com/FalconWatch and on the WBS website at worldbirdsanctuary.org. WBS experts will offer periodic website commentary on what’s happening in the nest. The FalconCam will be available until nesting activity is complete and the young have left the nest.
Peregrine falcons have been seen at Sioux Energy Center since early 2011. Ameren staff installed the webcam at the nest site in January 2012. This year’s nesting activities were first spotted in February. Researchers at WBS and MDC have determined the male was hatched at Ameren Missouri's Labadie Energy Center in 2004. The female was hatched in Iowa in 2006.
According to WBS Director Jeff Meshach, the female laid her first egg this year on March 21. Last year, she laid a total of four eggs and all four chicks survived to leave the nest. She is expected to lay a total clutch of four to five eggs this year. Once the last egg is laid, the chicks will hatch in about 30 days. The male falcon will bring food to the female and take his turns incubating the eggs so the female can feed and preen her feathers.
“What we will see at Ameren’s Sioux Energy Center nest box is the fruit of tens of thousands of hours of labor to make the peregrine falcon a common sight again,” Meshach said. “There is always something to learn about any of our world's birds and animals. Our camera will provide a window into the nesting life of the world's fastest creature.”
According to MDC Director Bob Ziehmer, the cooperative FalconCam will help Missourians discover nature right in the nest of these amazing raptors. “The project illustrates the power of partnerships between private and public sector organizations to help conserve native wildlife,” Ziehmer said.
MDC’s Discover Nature Schools program for Missouri students in grades K-12 is providing related educational materials and activities to the more than 1,000 schools and 230,000 students involved. The program promotes conservation-related curriculum and hands-on learning experiences in nature to help students become life-long conservationists. Falcon-related activities and lesson plans were developed in partnership with the World Bird Sanctuary.
The FalconCam is also helping Ameren Missouri promote conservation.
“Ameren Missouri is proud to once again partner with the World Bird Sanctuary and the Missouri Department of Conservation in sponsoring the falcon nesting box and camera at our Sioux Energy Center,” Michael Moehn, senior vice president, Customer Operations, said. “We take seriously our role as responsible stewards of the environment. The peregrine project has helped reintroduce this raptor to the Mississippi Valley.”
Ameren Missouri and WBS also work together to provide a suitable habitat for songbirds. Nesting boxes have been attached to Ameren Missouri transmission towers and the company has spent more than $300,000 to install nesting boxes, monitor the boxes, and band the baby song birds.
Meshach of WBS added that the peregrine falcon has made an incredible comeback from the brink of extinction. A WBS reintroduction program in the 1980s and early 1990s has placed more than 80 captive-hatched peregrines back into Missouri's wild, and WBS continues to band chicks produced by up to six pairs of wild peregrine falcon parents in the greater St. Louis area each year.
Considered the world’s fastest animal, peregrine falcons have been clocked diving at 261 mph. For more information on peregrine falcons, visit MDC online at mdc.mo.gov/node/3848.