California Condor

Location: Hutton's Bowl, Los Padres N.F.

Camera Host: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Find more about Weather in Hopper Mountain NWR, CA

September 19, 2018

Highlights of Condor Chick #923's Slip Off Cliff And Eventual Recovery

In case you missed it, #923 and its parent slipped off the cliff near the Hutton's Bowl nest during a feeding and tumbled down the canyon on September 11. The chick was spotted after landing safely on a ledge below the nest, and eventually it scaled back up the rocky terrain and returned to the nest cavity. According to our parters at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo, it isn't all that unusual for young condors to have growing pains while navigating new terrain! They went on to explain that "these explorations are very natural for condor chicks and are what help to prepare them for eventually leaving the nest. Much like a human baby learning to walk, condor chicks don't learn to fly all at once, but instead are very adept at learning their surrounding environment and developing the musculature, balance, stamina, and agility needed for eventual flight." 

September 12, 2018

Condor Chick #923 Back In Nest Cavity Day After Slipping Off Cliff Edge

One day after slipping down the dusty slope surrounding the Hutton's Bowl nest, wily #923 is back in front of the Condor cam and seeming none the worse for wear after scaling back up the cliff! Watch the young condor spend part of its morning zig-zagging across the nest cavity, only slowing down to nibble on rocks (and camera equipment).  

September 11, 2018

Hutton's Bowl Condor Chick Slips Off Cliff During Feeding, Lands On Ledge Below

Condor chick #923 had a close call this afternoon after it slipped off the cliff ledge during a feeding visit by one of the adults. The chick was later spotted on the cross-canyon cam looking unscathed on a ledge below the nest. It remains to be seen whether or not the young condor will be able to climb back up near its nesting cavity at this point, but the ledge where it landed is likely large enough for an adult to visit if need be. Continue to follow all of the action live on our cross-canyon camera. 

September 19, 2018

Highlights of Condor Chick #923's Slip Off Cliff And Eventual Recovery

In case you missed it, #923 and its parent slipped off the cliff near the Hutton's Bowl nest during a feeding and tumbled down the canyon on September 11. The chick was spotted after landing safely on a ledge below the nest, and eventually it scaled back up the rocky terrain and returned to the nest cavity. According to our parters at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo, it isn't all that unusual for young condors to have growing pains while navigating new terrain! They went on to explain that "these explorations are very natural for condor chicks and are what help to prepare them for eventually leaving the nest. Much like a human baby learning to walk, condor chicks don't learn to fly all at once, but instead are very adept at learning their surrounding environment and developing the musculature, balance, stamina, and agility needed for eventual flight." 

September 12, 2018

Condor Chick #923 Back In Nest Cavity Day After Slipping Off Cliff Edge

One day after slipping down the dusty slope surrounding the Hutton's Bowl nest, wily #923 is back in front of the Condor cam and seeming none the worse for wear after scaling back up the cliff! Watch the young condor spend part of its morning zig-zagging across the nest cavity, only slowing down to nibble on rocks (and camera equipment).  

September 11, 2018

Condor Chick #923 Makes A Quick Trip To The Nest Cavity

Look who stopped in for a short (and spunky) visit to the Hutton's Bowl nest cavity this morning! The young condor's natal down is all but gone, and #923 is looking more like a juvenile everyday. Dense, gray feathers have surfaced over the bird's head an neck region, giving it an overall brownish black appearance that is characteristic of younger immature condors. These scavengers take 5-7 years to attain adult appearance, during which their wing pattern and head coloration will progressively change from darker to lighter.  

August 31

New View From Across The Canyon On The Condor Cam!

We’re excited to share news that through the hard work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service & the Santa Barbara Zoo we’re able to see the condor cave from a new perspective—the cross-canyon cam! Click the "View 2nd Camera Angle" button underneath the live feed to watch!  

May 31

Hutton's Bowl California Condor Cam Goes Live!

The California Condor cam is back for an all-new season with our favorite soaring scavengers! This year's cam features a new breeding pair with their new chick at a new location known as Hutton's Bowl. Watch a 16-year-old female (#289) and a 13-year-old male (#374) attempt their first nest together as they work to raise a nearly two-month-old chick (hatched April 6) in a cavernous nest area near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge in Southern California. 

January 04

Healthy #871 Spotted In Devils Gate Area

Great news coming from the US Fish and Wildlife Service this week! Condor chick #871 was spotted in the Devils Gate area during a recent hike out near the nesting site. Reports indicate that the chick is doing well and looks healthy despite having a few singed tips on her primary feathers. The circumstances surrounding her fledging are unknown, but her singed wingtips indicate that she may have had close contact with the wildfires in the area at some point in the past few weeks. The feather damage isn’t expected to hinder her flight ability moving forward. Thanks to our partners at the Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo for the update. Photo credit: Stephanie Herrera, USFWS volunteer. 

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 Hutton’s Bowl nest, is located in the Los Padres National Forest, near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The parents of the chick in the Hutton’s Bowl nest are mom #289 and dad #374. Both parents were hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo. Dad #374 hatched in 2005 and mom #289 hatched in 2002. This is their first nesting attempt together but both parents have had previous mates. Condor #374 first nested in 2012 and has had two previous mates and a total of three nests prior to 2018. Each of his prior nests fledged a chick. Condor #289 began nesting in 2008 with a total of 5 prior attempts with three previous mates. She successfully fledged one chick.

The single egg was laid on February 7, 2018. After 58 days of incubation, the chick hatched on April 6, 2018.

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.