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Falcon chicks banded at Sims

Alex Doty • Jun 27, 2018 at 10:00 AM

Michigan Department of Natural Resources officials say it was much easier this year to band three male peregrine falcon chicks nesting 240 feet up on the Grand Haven Board of Light & Power’s emissions stack on Harbor Island.

“They treated us much better this year,” DNR wildlife biologist Nik Kalejs said. “Last year maybe was an outlier. Last year, she (mother falcon) was just fighting mad and went after everybody hard. It just makes it harder to concentrate on what you’re doing because your head is on a swivel looking around to make sure she doesn’t come around the curve of the stack and whack you.”

All three of the males produced at the nest box this year appeared healthy, DNR officials said.

“We thought at first one might be a female because the females are a little bit larger,” Kalejs said. “We tried a female band first, and it was so big and so much play on it that the male band fit much better.”

Kalejs noted that this year’s banding occurred later in the season than prior years. In 2017, the falcon chicks were banded in early June.

“It is certainly outside of the normal time frame we’ve seen with Grand Haven birds,” he said.

The wintry weather seen around Grand Haven this past spring could have had an effect on the reproduction process, Kalejs noted.

“We had some weird weather in April,” he said. “It could be something as simple as an aberration in the weather patterns from what we’ve seen in recent years.”

RELATED: Photo Gallery: DNR bands 3 falcon chicks at Sims plant

To date, the Grand Haven nest site has produced 45 peregrine falcon chicks — 25 females and 20 males — noted BLP Administrative Services Manager Renee Molyneux. The first chicks reproduced in the box were back in 2001.

Peregrine falcons were listed as an endangered species by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in 1970, after their Midwest population was eliminated in the mid-1960s due to problems with the pesticide DDT. In 1999, following extensive restoration efforts, the peregrine was removed from the federally endangered species list, but it remains on the Michigan endangered species list. 

Earlier this year, Kalejs banded three falcon chicks at the Consumers Energy J.H. Campbell Generating Complex in Port Sheldon Township. The three birds banded at the Consumers plant brought the total to 42 chicks that have hatched there since 2004.

There were also falcons banded at nesting sites in Grand Rapids, where boxes are located at Grand Valley State University and the Kent County Courthouse.

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