- Associated Press - Monday, April 20, 2015

VERNON, Vt. (AP) - A rare falcon has found a permanent home on a nuclear power plant smokestack.

Employees at Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Station have played an active role in creating and maintaining a home for peregrine falcons, the Brattleboro Reformer reported (http://bit.ly/1yK5Wlk). The falcon is listed as state-threatened in New Hampshire, and Vermont has roughly 40 pairs across the state.

Employees of the now-closing plant became aware of the falcons in 2009 after receiving a call from a New Hampshire Audubon biologist. Employees received permission from management to install a nest box on the smokestack, built by Steve Skibniowski, a longtime Yankee employee who now serves as a consultant at the plant. Audubon experts sent him the plans for a wooden box with an open front and a special perch.

“I’m surprised it’s held up as well as it has, because it’s very severe weather up there,” he said.

The box is located about 200 feet above ground and is only accessible by an attached ladder.

Skibniowski said they installed a camera, allowing them to keep track of the younger birds while they grow. The camera’s feed, which is not available to the public, gives them insight into the daily lives of the falcons.

But the employees do not just observe the birds, they help them.

When a young falcon fell from the nest and broke its wing, Skibniowski bought gizzards and giblets to feed him and drove him to the Vermont Institute of Natural Science’s bird rehabilitation center in Quechee. Staff nursed the bird back to health and released it back into the wild.

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Information from: Brattleboro Reformer, http://www.reformer.com/

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