Peregrine Falcons Thrive Online

Obesity researcher Dr. David Katz
In Minnesota, some special birds are making their home in a unique place east of the Twin Cities. Perched on a smokestack high above the St. Croix in Oak Park Heights, there is a peregrine's nest which can be monitored through a unique Internet site.

In the manmade nest, a threatened falcon is protecting her delicate eggs. The mere presence of the eggs is an indication of a healthy environment. Two decades ago residue from DDT and other pesticides made the eggs shells so thin that the peregrines could not reproduce. The majestic peregrine was almost extinct - it is still extremely rare.

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Nine years ago, Northern States Power Co. (NSP) began building bird houses on smokestacks to help breed peregrines in Minnesota. Six NSP towers across the state now have nests. Only one nest, of a peregrine named Mae in Oak Park Heights, has a specially mounted camera with Internet access - so anyone can keep an eye on the developments.

Mae has been nesting 400 feet up at the Allen S. King plant since 1989. "There are probably only fifteen pairs of these birds nesting in the whole state," NSP biologist Dan Orr tells WCCO-TV reporter Esme Murphy. "Very few people would ever get to see a peregrine falcon nesting and this is one way we can show just about anyone who has the internet who wants to see" Orr says.

Among the latest developments seem on the Internet site, two white fuzzy hatchlings. There is a new picture from the nest posted on the Internet every five minutes.

Dan Orr notes that not long ago people were thinking the peregrine would become extinct, yet today people can monitor a peregrine's nest from their home. So far this spring there have been more than 16,000 visitors to the NSP bird Internet site, (See link below).

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