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Auction winners help with peregrine falcon banding at Wauwatosa's We Energies power plant

June 11, 2014

Auction winners got a front row seat as three peregrine falcon fledglings were banded at Milwaukee County's We Energies power plant last week in Wauwatosa.

Two males and one female falcon hatched at We Energies falcon nest box and have been visible to the public through a live web camera, which We Energies has installed at a number of its power plant nest boxes.

Justin and Danielle Machata from Shorewood waited one year to see the falcons banded after winning it as an auction item last year through the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center.

"It was definitely worth it," said Danielle. Auction winners also got to name the falcons. The Machata's named one male Beasley after their dog.

Debby Suttner and Todd Firer won a seat through Riveredge Nature Center in Saukville and attended the banding with their granddaughter, Marilynn.

"It's a once in a lifetime experience. I'm glad we did it," said Firer.

"(Conservation) has always been a really important thing to us," said Suttner.

Suttner lauded the family's ability to get so close to an endangered animal and said she was surprised to learn that adult falcons would be fine reintroducing fledglings back into the nest, contrary to the belief that parents will reject their young if a human touches it.

They named the second male Kozmo, like the Machatas after the family dog.

The final female was named Mimi by We Energies employees.

This particular peregrine nest has experienced tumult as its original female, Madame X, was found injured on February 27 with shotgun pellets in her body and a broken collar bone. A $10,000 reward was offered for information leading to an arrest and conviction in this case, with the Humane Society of the United States and the Global Conservation Group each offering $5,000.

"We did not know if this would be a successful nest," said Cathy Schulze, spokeswoman for We Energies.

Luckily, a female falcon from a power plant in Ohio produced four eggs at the Milwaukee County nest box. One of these did not hatch. The male falcon was from the Oak Creek power plant. This was the pair's first year at the Milwaukee County site.

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