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Lansing BWL and Michigan DNR band falcon chicks at Erickson Power Plant

 Chad Fedewa holds a falcon chick before banding it. Dina Maneval stand behind him.
Sophia Saliby

The Lansing Board of Water and Light has hosted a nesting site for peregrine falcons at one of its power plants since 2004.

Chad Fedewa uses a tool to secure a metal band around a falcon chick's leg. Two members of his team help hold the bird down using a towel
Sophia Saliby
Bands are secured around both of each chick's legs.

Now, another pair of birds have made a home at the utility’s Erickson Power Plant and are raising four chicks this year.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Biologist Chad Fedewa and BWL employee Dina Maneval had to go up against two angry peregrine falcon parents Wednesday morning to collect their chicks living on top of the Erickson plant.

The birds are about four weeks old and days away from being able to fly.

The two brought the four chicks inside to determine their sexes and attach numbered bands around their legs. Fedewa explains why the bands are important.

"By banding the birds, we can track their migration patterns or survival rates. So, if the birds get spotted elsewhere in the future, we can know where they were born, where they traveled to and from."

 Four falcon chicks in a box separated by dividers
Sophia Saliby
Baby falcons are known as eyasses.

The young falcons weren’t too happy about getting taken from their nesting box, but calmed down once Fedewa and his team covered their heads with a towel and got to work putting the bands on.

The three male chicks were named Icon, Turbo and Flash. The female chick was named Artemis. Those names all came from suggestions by local students.

The falcon parents are named Eckert and Ericka. Eckert got his name after raising chicks at the BWL's Exckert Power Plant for five years, starting in 2012. He mated with two different females during that time.

Less is known about the female falcon because she is unbanded. The BWL gave her the name Ericka after the Erickson plant.

This is the second year a falcon pair has nested at Erickson, and the first at this specific site at the plant.

 Adult peregrine falcon next to a chick as seen on the Lansing BWL's falcon cam
Lansing BWL Falcon Cam
The male adult falcon has also nested for many years at the BWL's Eckert Power Plant. His mate is unbanded, so there's no way to know where she came from.

For two decades, Maneval has been involved in ensuring falcons who nest at BWL sites stay safe. She says she’ll be on the lookout for the next few weeks while the chicks learn to fly and hunt.

"If one of them were to jump and walk around here in the parking lot, they're gonna call me in the office and say, 'Do you want to take it back to the roof?'" she said. "I'll drive straight out and put it back up."

The BWL falcons aren’t the only ones in the area.

There is also a falcon family at Michigan State University’s Spartan Stadium.

Live cameras are trained on each of the nesting boxes, so anyone can watch the birds grow up.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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