Working to track Peregrine Falcons along Mississippi

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WEST ALTON, MO (KTVI) - At Ameren's Sioux energy center in west Alton, Missouri; you'll find some Peregrine falcons high up in the air, and the best views of life on the Mississippi river.

"We put the nest boxes in a place to make sure the Peregrines are going to nest there," says Jeff Meshach, Interim Director World Bird Sanctuary. "So they like them in high places like that."

In this case, some 250 feet up along the outside of that third Ameren smokestack. The World Bird Sanctuary is on a mission to get tracking bands on new falcons in the nesting box.

"We're proud to help the environment and to proliferate the peregrine pollution in the country especially around the Midwest," says Randy Hunt, Ameren Missouri Supervising Engineer & Avian Protection Manager.

It's not for the faint of heart as Jeff Meshach, Roger Holloway and the World Bird staff work to extract the new birds and get them into a makeshift medical center.

"Hold away from the beak," says Meshach. "Just like that."

"That's cool," says Patrick Clark holding a baby.

The group works fast. They have just an hour to get blood drawn, banding and a quick check up before returning these two falcons to their nests, and an annoyed mom and dad.

"One of the highlights of my any one year is having the fastest creature in the world in your hands," says Meshach.

"How fast?" asks Clark.

"They've been clocked 261 miles per hour is the fastest they were ever clocked."

Meshach says he stopped counting after the tenth time he was buzzed or dive bombed while doing Friday morning's work.

The World Bird Sanctuary, founded by the late Walter Crawford has been working with Ameren for years on saving the bird that was considered extinct.

"A lot of Walt's efforts with the company led to this nest getting set here," says Hunt. "We also have a nest at our Rush Island and Labadie plant as well."

"Draw the blood and all this work we're doing with banding and longevity records and all of that knowledge will help to make sure peregrines are protected now for decades and ions to come," says Meshach.

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