In 1989, working with the Raptor Resource Project, Xcel Energy was the first utility in the world to place a nest box on its power plant. The box was installed for peregrine falcons at the Allen S. King plant stack in Oak Park Heights
Following Xcel Energy’s lead, the idea to locate nesting boxes on power plants spread nationally and as far away as Italy and Vietnam. To date, more than 1,000 young falcons have fledged from Midwest power plant nesting boxes
In 1997, Xcel Energy installed the first Bird Cam in a falcon nesting box at the King plant to increase awareness of the conservation effort and provide the public with opportunities to watch the birds on the company’s website: xcelenergy.com.
From spring to mid-summer, continuous streaming video from the Bird Cams shows peregrine falcon nests at the King, Sherco and Black Dog plants and soon blue heron nests at the Riverside plant. Video is also available on the website from eagle, owl and kestrel nests at Xcel Energy facilities in Colorado and an eagle nest in Decorah, Iowa.
On May 22, 2011, a flock of blue herons was nesting on an island near North Mississippi Regional Park when a tornado tore through North Minneapolis, destroying the rookery. In the wake of the storm, dozens of the herons were dead, injured or missing.
Herons typically abandon nesting locations when disturbed. Some of the surviving members of the flock relocated to an island owned by Xcel Energy and adjacent to the Riverside Plant, and this year nesting activities have resumed. There are approximately 30 active nests in the new rookery.
Interested in corresponding with other Bird Cam viewers? Join the BirdCam Forum available through the Raptor Resource Project.