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Big birds love the mills

Updated: July 27, 2013 3:00AM



While the city of Crown Point doesn’t have any buildings tall enough to attract the magnificent peregrine falcon, residents go to work every day where the birds like to nest.

The top nesting sites in Northwest Indiana are ArcelorMittal Steel in Indiana Harbor East, ArcelorMittal Steel-Indiana Harbor West, both in East Chicago; and the Burns Harbor plant in Porter.

The falcons also like the U.S. Steel coke plant and the Carmeuse lime plant in Gary.

The height of the NIPSCO facility in Michigan City and the Bailly Plant in Porter give great nesting sites, as does the BP refinery in Whiting.

The other six primary nesting sites for peregrine falcons in Indiana include two in Indianapolis, one in Fort Wayne, one in New Albany and one in South Bend, and one that on a bridge between Madison, Ind. and Milton, Ky.

Most of the sites in Indiana are on top of tall industrial buildings.

The exceptions are the bridge and three office buildings.

Nesting and hunting at industrial sites allows people to see the birds in flight without having to witness up-close their killing power. They hunt other birds and attack from above.

When you see them looking like they are floating in the air, they just may be floating on a thermal until they spot lunch.

Then you will probably miss them and wonder where they went. They pull in their wings and drop into a steep, very fast dive bomb that has been clocked at over 200 miles an hour.

What they are looking for to eat include pigeons and starlings, blackbirds, blue jays, shorebirds and waterfowl. All are fair game for a hungry peregrine falcon, but if necessary it will also enjoy a dinner of mammals, reptiles and insects.

With the stop of use of DDT and other chemical pesticides, these falcons are back.

A peregrine has a wing span of between three and four feet from tip to tip.

The body length averages between 13 and 20 inches long and weighs from one pound to 3 ½ pounds. They are not as big as the bald eagle but they are fast.

The Indiana Department of Natural Resources non-game bird biologist John Castrale said that the department will begin banding the young birds before they leave their parents’ nests forever.

When Kinney died in Indianapolis last year his 10-year relationship with Kathy Q ended, so the 15-year-old peregrine found a new mate. Kinney, at age 19, had been believed to be the oldest and most productive peregrine in the Midwest, having fathered a combined 61 young with Kathy Q and a previous mate.

Kathy Q has mated with a 2-year old named Will from Grand Rapids, Mich. They have four chicks this year. Birds from Indiana have been found as far as Iowa and Ohio.



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