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Empty Nest: Falcon Family Takes Flight from Sioux Energy Center for Year

The three peregrine falcon chicks hatched this spring in a nesting box at Ameren Missouri's Sioux Energy Center have flown the coop and moved on to the next stage of their lives. The chicks were recently spotted climbing and flying among the beams near their nesting box (a behavior known as "branching"). This past week, staff at the World Bird Sanctuary confirmed the falcon chicks and their parents had left (or "fledged") the nest for the year.

"These are the moments we especially enjoy watching our webcam at our Sioux Energy Center," said Warren Wood, vice president of External Affairs and Communications for Ameren Missouri. "We've been proud supporters of the peregrine falcon project for years. It's part of our shared passion with our partners, the World Bird Sanctuary (WBS) and the Missouri Department of Conservation (MDC), in our mutual goal of doing what we can to protect and preserve the environment."

The webcam that monitored the falcon family's life has been turned off and will be reactivated next year when a new family moves in. The same pair of parent falcons has used the Sioux Energy Center nesting box for the last three years.

 "Not only does the camera provide a glimpse into the otherwise private lives of nesting peregrines," Jeff Meshach, director of World Bird Sanctuary, said, "The camera website also allows viewers to ask questions and gain knowledge of other aspects of peregrine falcon life. The whole package is truly unique."

The parents continue to take care of their chicks after fledging. It takes a young peregrine up to six weeks to fully develop their flight skills to a point where they can capture their own food. The parents will capture prey and feed the chicks. It is rare that they ever return.to the nesting box before the next nesting season.

For more information on peregrine falcons, visit MDC online at http://mdc.mo.gov/discover-nature/field-guide/peregrine-falcon.

As it does every year, the webcam has proven popular with web visitors. Total number of visits - or individual views – in 2014 for the website was 54,750 Average length of time visitors spent viewing the falcon cam this year was between approximately six and seven minutes.

Ameren Missouri's partnership with the WBS has helped repopulate the Mississippi Valley with peregrine falcons. The company has spent more than $300,000 to install nesting boxes and nesting tower materials for these birds.

In addition to the falcon program, Ameren Missouri has installed 1,000 swan diverters on about 1.5 miles of transmission power lines that cross the Riverlands Migratory Bird Sanctuary north of St. Louis near Alton, IL. The diverters are static lines that do not carry electricity. Swans spot them in flight and fly around them, protecting the birds and the reliability of our power lines.

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Ameren Missouri has been providing electric and gas service for more than 100 years, and the company's electric rates are among the lowest in the nation. Ameren Missouri's mission is to power the quality of life for its 1.2 million electric and 127,000 natural gas customers in central and eastern Missouri. The company's service area covers 63 counties and more than 500 communities including the greater St. Louis area.  For more information please visit AmerenMissouri.com or follow AmerenMissouri on Facebook or Twitter.