New falcon box at a ‘landmark’ site

The Landmark Inn along North Front Street in Marquette is the new site of a peregrine falcon nesting box. The species uses high spots for its nesting areas. (Photo courtesy of the Landmark Inn)

MARQUETTE — When We Energies’ Presque Isle Power Plant closed earlier this year, its peregrine falcon nesting box no longer was available as a home for the fast-flying birds of prey.

However, a box has been installed atop another high spot in the city of Marquette: the Landmark Inn along Front Street.

Michigan Department of Natural Resources wildlife biologist Brian Roell said the Landmark Inn stood out as a tall building in the city with peregrine falcons having previously been spotted eating birds on the roof.

“I have high hopes,” Roell said. “There’s obviously no guarantee.”

However, he pointed out the Landmark Inn, which he called “great cooperators” with the nesting box project, is located “just a straight shot” across from the Presque Isle Power Plant, plus peregrines are used to inhabiting the dimensions of a typical nesting box.

“They should recognize it as a nesting site,” Roell said.

The DNR still is working with Northern Michigan University to have a nesting box installed on campus, he said. Additionally, the DNR had permission to put a box at the Pine Ridge Apartments along Pine Street in Marquette, but the recent fire there put an end to that possibility.

The PIPP nesting site had been active since 2011.

We Energies’ effort to re-establish peregrines, whose populations declined because of pesticides that weakened their egg shells and led to death before hatching, began in the early 1990s.

Since 1997, nesting boxes at its various We Energies power plants have produced numerous falcon chicks. Boxes were installed at the plants since they are attracted to tall structures along lakes or rivers, with the PIPP an ideal spot.

Falcons also had nested at the Shiras Steam Plant, which along with the Presque Isle Power Plant is set to be demolished at a yet-to-be-announced date.

The peregrine falcon is listed as an endangered species in Michigan.

Jill Harris, assistant general manager at the Landmark Inn, expressed excitement at the prospect of the hotel being home to peregrines.

“We hope we get to see some baby falcons next year,” Harris said in an email.

Christie Bleck can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 250. Her email address is cbleck@miningjournal .net.