Peregrine Falcon conservation

How many times have we passed by the Skawina power plant and the former aluminum smelter, looking at the towering chimneys that clearly stand out in the local landscape? The view of five such structures dominating the surrounding doesn't give the observer the impression that the environment in the area is clean and healthy. Unfortunately, this impression aligns with the truth. Skawina and its surroundings are an area relatively heavily polluted by the operations of the facilities that used to operate here. Therefore, in the spring of 2019, while stuck in traffic on the DK44 during the morning commute to work and looking at those chimneys, I came to the conclusion that they should be utilized.

In the foreground, chimney number 3 with the nesting platform for peregrine falcons at CEZ Skawina

The inspiration came from a recently visited website where the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals SOKÓŁ has been sharing a wealth of information about their work to strengthen the peregrine falcon population in Poland for several years. The live internet broadcasts from nesting platforms for these birds, placed in structures very similar to the Skawina chimneys, provided the perfect idea for how to utilize our "scarecrows." The presence of peregrine falcons had been confirmed by observers in the Krakow area, not very frequently, but consistently. Birds were spotted in places such as Brzeźnica, Niepołomice, Sułoszowa, and even in Krakow itself.

A young peregrine falcon observed in the Krakow area in October 2019 (photo by K. Haja).

The idea seemed very distant, but as the Małopolska Ornithological Society, we decided to take on the task. We reached out to Mr. Piotr Koczwara, a member of the board of CEZ Skawina S.A. Mr. Piotr turned out to be a very open-minded individual who fully understood the purpose and vision of our project. Given that environmental protection is important for the CEZ Group and the power plant strives to support projects that protect the environment in its vicinity, Mr. Piotr agreed to the construction of a nesting platform for the peregrine falcon using chimney number 3. From that moment on, the project gained momentum, and we moved forward vigorously. We invited Sławek Sielicki, representing the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals SOKÓŁ, to collaborate. He has extensive experience in the care of the Polish peregrine falcon population and has built and manages numerous artificial nests for these birds using similar industrial structures. It turned out that he was the best partner we could have hoped for in realizing our idea.

After approximately 5 months of efforts, discussions, and collaborative work involving CEZ Skawina, MTO, the Association for the Protection of Wild Animals SOKÓŁ, on October 16, 2019, a nesting platform for peregrine falcons was installed on chimney number 3 at the Skawina power plant.

The joined forces of MTO, CEZ Skawina, and SOKÓŁ

Final work on the nesting platform