Frequent flyer finds help in Nicaragua

Peregrine falcon that was born in Port as part of We Energies recovery program lives up to its wanderer name by being found injured in Central America

PETE, a female peregrine falcon born and banded at the We Energies power plant in Port Washington last spring, was recently found injured in a field in Nicaragua and nursed back to health by the man who found her.
Ozaukee Press staff

Pete, a peregrine falcon hatched at the We Energies power plant in Port Washington, has done more traveling in her first year than many people do in their lives.

The female raptor was found injured in Nicaragua recently, nursed back to health by the man who found her in a field and then returned to the wild.

“It really is quite remarkable,” Greg Septon, founder of the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program, said. “It is cool, a really good story.”

It’s remarkable for many reasons, he said.

For one thing, between 50% and 70% of peregrines don’t live past their first year, Septon noted.

And although the peregrines can travel far — the name peregrine means wanderer — most young males nest within 100 miles of where they were hatched, he said, and females within 200 miles.

“A lot of it has to do with the weather,” he said. “I think a lot of young birds go where the winds go if they don’t have a mate or an established territory.”

In addition, it’s rare to discover what’s happened to a bird after it leaves the nest, Septon said.

Pete, who was named after the Carroll University mascot Pio Pete and banded last spring by Septon and We Energies employee Mike Grisar — a Carroll University alumnus — is an exception to the rules.

She was one of two peregrines born to mother Brinn and father Beasley at the Port power plant last year.

But Pete was recently found in a field near Sebaco in the northwestern part of Nicaragua.

Pete was being harassed by two crested caracaras — large, tropical falcons — in the field when Misael Sotelo found her. After chasing the crested caracaras away and discovering that Pete couldn’t fly, Sotelo took her home and nursed her back to health over the next three weeks.

Sotelo, who had no experience working with injured birds, said he would do it all over again.

“I felt great satisfaction seeing how she was flying again,” he said in a statement released by We Energies. “I made sure to release her in a wooded area away from people who might hurt her.”

But before he released Pete, Sotelo entered the number on one of the bird’s bands with the federal bird banding laboratory.

Septon gets a report from the laboratory every month and said he was shocked to find out what had happened.

A photo taken by Sotelo shows that Pete has a damaged middle toe on her left foot. Septon said he has no idea how the bird was injured, but said it isn’t uncommon.

“He’s probably going to lose it,” Septon said. “A lot of raptors lose a toe.

“I’m hoping that bird has what it takes to survive.”

If it does, Septon said, Pete is likely to return to the United States although whether she will come back to Port remains to be seen.

“It could go anywhere,” he said. “Since it doesn’t have a home, it could come back anywhere.”

Septon said he is curious how and why Pete traveled so far. “We’ll never know,” he said, but noted that this isn’t the farthest a bird he’s banded has traveled.

Three or four years ago, one of the peregrines he banded was found injured in Venezuela. But that story didn’t end as well, Septon said. The bird, too, was injured and taken to a zoo, where it was placed in a flight enclosure. It ended up on the ground, where it was attacked by rats that killed it.

Septon, who founded the Peregrine Falcon Recovery Program in 1987, said he’s banded 1,420 birds.

Of those, 444 peregrines have been born at We Energies and Wisconsin Public Service power plants since 1992.

Since the first peregrines were born at the Port power plant in 2000, 76 chicks have been born and raised in the city.


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Ozaukee Press

Wisconsin’s largest paid circulation community weekly newspaper. Serving Port Washington, Saukville, Grafton, Fredonia, Belgium, as well as Ozaukee County government. Locally owned and printed in Port Washington, Wisconsin.

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