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This spring we've had some pretty impressive and unusual house guests. For one thing, they can average a speed of 60 miles per hour, with top speeds of 200 mph - all without a car.
They're peregrine falcons. And they came back to PPL's Tower Building in Allentown this spring, the first time in 10 years that a nest box on the top of the 23-story tower has hosted a pair of falcons. The initial pair laid eggs there, and we were able to watch several hatchlings join the falcon family.
We were thrilled to see them, as PPL has been involved for quite a while with efforts to restore the peregrine falcon population in Pennsylvania. In 1995, we began supporting the Lehigh Valley Peregrine Project, a community effort to release young peregrine falcons from the top of our headquarters building in the hopes that the falcons would come back to the area.
(Why are these birds so fascinated with our tower, you might ask? In the wild, they nest on high cliffs. In urban settings, tall buildings are the next best thing. Falcons making their way to Allentown have also nested on some of the city's larger bridges.)
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, an adult peregrine can reach a speed of more than 200 miles per hour in a vertical dive and averages about 60 miles per hour in level flight. Peregrine falcons feed on other birds, usually by striking them in flight. Their prey includes pigeons, blue jays, and other mid-sized song birds.
To give the public a view of our special guests - and their babies -- we reactivated a live camera that had been set up a decade ago for our last round of falcon visits. The live camera feed is available on our website at pplelectric.com/environment. We're pleased to offer an up-close view of these magnificent birds as they go about their daily lives.
We've supported other raptors as well. Over the past two years, PPL has assisted in putting up about an additional half-dozen osprey nesting platforms at various locations in our service territory such as Beltzville State Park and Owl Creek Park. We partner with the Pennsylvania Game Commission, and others, on those projects.
Ospreys have a fondness for nesting on tall utility towers, so we've worked to provide them with other places to make their homes. And it's worked: When we repaired a storm-toppled osprey platform near Lake Wallenpaupack this spring, the birds were back on the platform within an hour.
We know that caring for the environment as an important part of the work we do. It's true that keeping electric service strong and reliable sometimes calls for us to trim or cut trees. But at the same time, we recognize the importance of protecting the environment and doing our work in a responsible fashion.
That's why we give time and resources to support wild birds in our service territory.
And that's why it's a pleasure to welcome them to our Tower Building, any time they want to drop by.