California Condor

Location: Pole Canyon, Southern California

Camera Host: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Find more about Weather in Hopper Mountain NWR, CA

October 10, 2019

6-month-old Condor Chick Uses Its Wings To Return To Nest Cavity

The Pole Canyon chick celebrated becoming 6 months old by making this impressive hop-flight from a rocky ridge to its nest cavity. We see the young condor gain confidence in its flying ability every day. Way to go, #980! 

October 07, 2019

California Condors Take Off In Unison

It was a family reunion on the California Condor cam earlier today before both adults took off in unison. Watch them spread their wings and soar out of frame of the cross-canyon cam!  

September 30, 2019

California Condor Chick Uses Wings To Scramble Back To Nest Cavity

#980 has scrambled back up to its nest cavity with a little help from its wings! You don't want to miss the chick's playful behavior after the ascent. Watch the spunky young condor hop to and fro inside the nest cavity, flap its wings, and capture a loose feather and twirl it around. We're betting that #980 won't stay for long, so tune in while you can! 

October 10, 2019

6-month-old Condor Chick Uses Its Wings To Return To Nest Cavity

The Pole Canyon chick celebrated becoming 6 months old by making this impressive hop-flight from a rocky ridge to its nest cavity. We see the young condor gain confidence in its flying ability every day. Way to go, #980! 

October 07, 2019

California Condors Take Off In Unison

It was a family reunion on the California Condor cam earlier today before both adults took off in unison. Watch them spread their wings and soar out of frame of the cross-canyon cam!  

September 30, 2019

California Condor Chick Uses Wings To Scramble Back To Nest Cavity

#980 has scrambled back up to its nest cavity with a little help from its wings! You don't want to miss the chick's playful behavior after the ascent. Watch the spunky young condor hop to and fro inside the nest cavity, flap its wings, and capture a loose feather and twirl it around. We're betting that #980 won't stay for long, so tune in while you can! 

August 12

Introducing New Cross-Canyon Condor Cam!

Now's your chance to enjoy breathtaking vistas of Southern California's remote cliff sides on the the new cross-canyon cam. From this fresh perspective, you'll see soaring California Condors touch down in their rocky nest cavity to feed their hungry youngster, who will soon begin to explore the surrounding bluffs. That's not all, the original nest cam has been repositioned to provide a wider view of the nest cavity. Don't miss a moment of the action in Pole Canyon. To watch the cross-canyon cam, click the “view 2nd camera angle” button under the livestream or navigate via the “Switch camera” button soon the YouTube playhead. 

June 05

California Condor Cam Is Live From Pole Canyon!

Watch North America's largest flying land birds soar back into the breeding season on the 2019 California Condor cam! A new year brings viewers to a new nesting cavity, Pole Canyon, where an 18-year old male (#262) and a 9-year-old female (#563) attempt their first nest together as they work to raise a 56-day-old chick (hatched April 10) into a healthy fledgling over the next 5 months. Now's your chance to watch these magnificent scavengers live from their cavernous nest area near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Southern California. 

Nest Placement

Condors nest mainly in natural cavities or caves in cliffs, though they sometimes also use trees, such as coast redwood and, historically, the giant sequoia. (As the wild population grows, there is the possibility they may return to the sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada.) Condors have multiple nesting sites and may switch sites between years. Females make the final decision on which nest location to use.

Nest Description

Condors lay their eggs directly on the dirt floor of a cliff ledge or cave, or they construct loose piles of debris from whatever is available at the nest site, such as gravel, leaves, bark, and bones. Nests have loosely defined boundaries and are usually about 3 feet across and up to 8 inches deep.

Clutch Size

1- eggs

Incubation Period

53-60 days

Nestling Period

163-163 days

Egg Description

Pale blue-green bleaching to white or creamy.

Condition at Hatching

Helpless, covered in white down with eyes open.

Food

California Condors eat carrion of land and marine mammals such as deer, cattle, pigs, rabbits, sea lions, and whales. They swallow bone chips and marine shells to meet their calcium needs. They favor small to medium-sized carcasses, probably because smaller bones are easily consumed and digested. Condors locate carcasses with their keen eyesight (not by smell) by observing other scavengers assembled at a carcass. Once they land they take over the carcass from smaller species, but they are tolerant of each other and usually feed in groups. Condors are wary of humans while feeding, which is probably why they do not use roadkill as a food source. In captivity, condors consume 5–7 percent of their body mass per day to maintain their weight, but because their crop (an enlarged part of the esophagus) can hold 3 pounds of food, they may only have to eat every 2–3 days. Young are fed by regurgitation.

Typical Voice

Condors are usually silent, but can issue a variety of hisses and snorts particularly when defending nest sites. Newborn chicks hiss, wheeze, and grunt at adults.more sounds

See full Species Info at All About Birds

About the Nest

This condor nest, known as the Pole Canyon nest, is located in a remote canyon near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The parents of the chick in the Pole Canyon nest are mom #563 and dad #262. Dad #262 was laid in 2001 and was the first viable egg laid in the wild since the reintroduction program began. He was actually one of two eggs laid to a trio (male #100 and females #111 and #108) but was brought into captivity to ensure proper incubation. He hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo and was released back to the wild a year later in 2002. Mom #563 hatched at the Oregon Zoo in 2010. This is their first nesting attempt together but both have nested previously with mates who are now deceased.

A single egg was laid in this nest cavity, and the chick hatched on April 10, 2019.

About the Condor Recovery Project

California Condors are critically endangered; they are on the 2014 State of the Birds Watch List, which lists species most in danger of extinction without significant conservation action. They are also listed as Endangered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. All of the more than 400 condors now alive are descended from 27 birds that were brought into captivity in the early 1980s, in a controversial but successful captive breeding program.

As of 2014, there were more than 230 individuals in the wild in California, Arizona, and Baja California. The number has been rising steadily each year, as captive-bred birds are released and wild pairs fledge young from their own nests. More than 160 additional condors live in captivity at breeding programs or on exhibit at the Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, World Center for Birds of Prey, Phoenix Zoo, Chapultepec Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo. Condors have benefited greatly from the Endangered Species Act and from aggressive efforts to breed them in captivity and re-release them into the wild, but the survival of the species is still dependent on human intervention.

The California Condor Recovery Program (Recovery Program) is a multi-entity effort, led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, to recover the endangered California Condor. Partners in condor recovery include the U.S. Forest Service, National Park Service, Bureau of Land Management, Arizona Game and Fish Department, California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Utah Department of Fish and Wildlife, the federal government of Mexico, Los Angeles Zoo, Oregon Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Chapultepec Zoo, San Diego Zoo, Oakland Zoo, The Peregrine Fund, Ventana Wildlife Society, Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Yurok Tribe, and a host of other governmental and nongovernmental organizations.

The Recovery Program is now in the final phase of recovery, focusing on the creation of self-sustaining populations. The Program is placing increased emphasis on the captive-breeding and reintroduction of California Condors to the wild and the management of that wild population. These efforts combine trying to reduce the threat of lead with actively managing nesting in the wild to increase the number of wild-fledged chicks.

The goal of the California Condor Recovery Plan is to establish two geographically distinct self-sustaining populations, each with 150 birds in the wild and at least 15 breeding pairs, with a third population of condors retained in captivity. As the Recovery Program works toward this goal, the number of release sites has grown. There are three active release sites in California, one in Arizona, and one in Baja California, Mexico.

Acknowledgements

The effort to create a livestreaming cam on a wild condor nest could not have happened without the effort, funding, and expertise of a wide consortium of collaborators.