California Condor

Location: Sespe Condor Sanctuary

Camera Host: US Fish and Wildlife Service

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September 30, 2016

Unfortunate News Regarding Condor Chick #815

We are saddened to share the news that California Condor chick #815 has passed away. We received a report from biologists at the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge that the chick's remains had been found on the steep slopes high above the nesting cavity in the Koford's Ridge area. The biologists were able to track the location using radio telemetry after receiving a mortality signal (indicating that the chick had not moved for 12+ hours) from the transmitter in the chick's wing tag. The cause of death has not yet been determined and will require results from a necropsy conducted the USFWS. This may take several months, but we will make sure to share any additional news regarding the chick once we've received it. Despite this news, it is a positive note that around 50 % of the California Condor flock are still on track to fledge this year – an encouraging number for the continued recovery of the species. All of us involved with the Condor Cam Project are truly saddened by the news of chick #815, and we'd like to thank the viewers for dedicating their time and interest to the conservation of the endangered California Condor. We thank you for understanding during this difficult period, and we hope to see you online next year, as we plan to continue our partnership in providing the Condor Cam for another breeding season and promote awareness about these magnificent birds. More...

September 27, 2016

Condor Cam Goes Offline For 2016

The California Condor Cam has gone offline for the 2016, and we'd like to thank all of the viewers that followed along this year's breeding season. While we wait for next year, make sure to catch all of this year's highlights on cam above in the video feed. We will continue to update about the chick #15 once we receive a status report from the USFWS. 

September 16, 2016

Condor Chick Update: Testing Flying Skills

The condor chick has switched from spending its time in the nesting cavity to scaling around the Koford's Ridge area. This clip, documented by Eliana Moustakas from the Great Basin Institute, shows footage of the condor chick practicing some "tester flights". Here you can see the chick gliding from the edge of a shallow cliff into the brush below. This behavior is common for juvenile condors when navigating steep cliff edges; however, the chick is not yet considered fledged until it has landed in a location that can only be reached by flying. Stay tuned for more info as we learn how the chick is progressing! More...

September 16, 2016

Condor Chick Update: Testing Flying Skills

The condor chick has switched from spending its time in the nesting cavity to scaling around the Koford's Ridge area. This clip, documented by Eliana Moustakas from the Great Basin Institute, shows footage of the condor chick practicing some "tester flights". Here you can see the chick gliding from the edge of a shallow cliff into the brush below. This behavior is common for juvenile condors when navigating steep cliff edges; however, the chick is not yet considered fledged until it has landed in a location that can only be reached by flying. Stay tuned for more info as we learn how the chick is progressing! 

September 14, 2016

Condor Chick 4-Month Update

We are happy to report that the chick received positive grades across the board on its physical health and had a whopping weigh in at over 20 pounds! The chick’s blood test revealed lead levels at 23 micrograms/deciliter, which suggests that the chick had been exposed to lead to some degree. However, lead exposure is common in condors and these results were deemed below the level that is serious enough for treatment (35 micrograms/deciliter). The ingestion and presence of microtrash continues to be a serious problem for condors. The condor team detected microtrash in the condor chick’s crop and ventriculus and found an additional 31 pieces of microtrash in the substrate of the nest cavity – a staggering reminder of the negative impact that disposable waste can have on wildlife. Despite this, the chick continues to be doing well and fledging is on the horizon for the young bird. We are still waiting on the DNA results to determine the sex of the chick but we will share the information as soon as we know. In the meantime, enjoy this clip that highlights the careful procedures of the team of USFWS and Santa Barbara Zoo biologists during the 4-month checkup. 

September 07, 2016

Chick Bursts Into The Cave

The condor chick made a grand entrance into the cave today. Even though it was a quick stay, it gave us a great look at how much the chick has grown since hatching. At this rate, fledging should be less than one month away. 

September 30

Unfortunate News Regarding Condor Chick #815

We are saddened to share the news that California Condor chick #815 has passed away. We received a report from biologists at the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge that the chick's remains had been found on the steep slopes high above the nesting cavity in the Koford's Ridge area. The biologists were able to track the location using radio telemetry after receiving a mortality signal (indicating that the chick had not moved for 12+ hours) from the transmitter in the chick's wing tag. The cause of death has not yet been determined and will require results from a necropsy conducted the USFWS. This may take several months, but we will make sure to share any additional news regarding the chick once we've received it. Despite this news, it is a positive note that around 50 % of the California Condor flock are still on track to fledge this year – an encouraging number for the continued recovery of the species. All of us involved with the Condor Cam Project are truly saddened by the news of chick #815, and we'd like to thank the viewers for dedicating their time and interest to the conservation of the endangered California Condor. We thank you for understanding during this difficult period, and we hope to see you online next year, as we plan to continue our partnership in providing the Condor Cam for another breeding season and promote awareness about these magnificent birds. More...

September 27

Condor Cam Goes Offline For 2016

The California Condor Cam has gone offline for the 2016, and we'd like to thank all of the viewers that followed along this year's breeding season. While we wait for next year, make sure to catch all of this year's highlights on cam above in the video feed. We will continue to update about the chick #15 once we receive a status report from the USFWS. 

September 16

Condor Chick Update: Testing Flying Skills

The condor chick has switched from spending its time in the nesting cavity to scaling around the Koford's Ridge area. This clip, documented by Eliana Moustakas from the Great Basin Institute, shows footage of the condor chick practicing some "tester flights". Here you can see the chick gliding from the edge of a shallow cliff into the brush below. This behavior is common for juvenile condors when navigating steep cliff edges; however, the chick is not yet considered fledged until it has landed in a location that can only be reached by flying. Stay tuned for more info as we learn how the chick is progressing! More...

California Condor

Cliff

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

1-0 eggs

Incubation Period

53-60 days

Nestling Period

163-180 days

Egg Description

Pale blue-green bleaching to white or creamy.

Condition at Hatching

Helpless, covered in white down with eyes open.

Carrion

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 Koford’s Ridge nest, is located in the Sespe Condor Sanctuary, Los Padres National Forest, near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The parents of the Koford’s Ridge chick are female #111 and male #509. Condor #111 is 21-years old and hatched at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in 1994. Previously paired with #100 and #125, she has been a breeder since 2001. Male #509 is a 6-year old wild-fledged condor and the offspring of Hopper Canyon’s most famous pair – #161 and #107. Condors #111 and #509 were observed courting in fall 2014 and this is their second chick together.

This year, they are incubating an egg that was produced as part of the California Condor Recovery Program’s captive breeding effort at Los Angeles Zoo. The pair’s own egg disappeared in March, possibly taken by a predator. Biologists put a dummy egg in the nest so that the parents would continue to incubate. On April 3, the captive-bred egg was placed into the nest, and it hatched the following day.

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.