Wednesday, May 22, 2013

The Riverside Herons, Xcel Energy, and Rob MacIntyre

The herons return. Thanks to Nora for the cap
Two years ago today, Raptor Resource Project Board President Rob MacIntyre suffered cardiac arrest while assisting his neighbors with cleanup after a tornado in north Minneapolis, MN. He was just 53 years old. The tornado also took the life of Floyd David Whitfield and damaged or destroyed 3,700 properties, including a blue heron colony located in the North Mississippi Regional Park. 

On June 6th of 2011, Xcel Energy staff at the Riverside Plant in northeast Minneapolis informed Dan Orr that blue herons had shown up on a small island owned by the plant. The island, which is sited roughly 50 feet from the east bank of the Mississippi, is believed to be man-made. It may have been built to control water flow or timber floating down the river in the 1890s, when Minneapolis was home to many saw mills. The industry faded in the early part of the 20th century, and the small island quickly became covered with trees. 

The tornado had been devastating, but the re-establishment of the heron rookery provided a lot of hope. We were thrilled with the connection to Rob, his beloved north Minneapolis, and Xcel Energy. Since the Riverside plant already had a falcon cam, adding a heron cam was easy. We also added a kestrel nest box to the plant's reclaimed coalyard, which had been turned into prairie grass. We'll be checking that and the falcon box sometime next week. 

The herons returned in 2013 for a third season on the little island. We hope you enjoy watching them. Fly high, Rob, and know that people still love and care for you. We wish you were here to see the wonderful things that have happened since 2011. 
Rob installing a falcon nestbox at Greysolon Plaza in Duluth