California Condor

Location: Devils Gate, Los Padres N.F.

Camera Host: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Find more about Weather in Hopper Mountain NWR, CA

October 16, 2017

4-month Health Check Report: Condor Chick Looking Healthy

The results are in! We’re excited to report that the Devils Gate chick received a healthy designation from biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo during her 4-month health check on August 8, 2017. Weighing in at a sizable 16.5 pounds (adult females are typically 18 pounds), a feisty #871 showed normal behavior of a heathy condor nestling, and was considered to be in great overall condition. Now at over six months of age, #871 is nearly finished molting into her juvenile plumage and should be preparing to fledge at any time within the next 1–4 weeks! 

October 12, 2017

Condor Chick #871 Tests Tree Climbing Skills

Who is that way up there?! As you can see, California Condor chick #871 has become more adventurous as of late, and the activity is ramping up at the Devils Gate nest with each passing day. Could this mean that fledging is on the horizon? Only time will tell. 

October 05, 2017

#513 Feeds Her Hungry Chick In Devils Gate

California Condor chick #871 is quite persistent when she's hungry! Here, the chick's furious wing-begging and bill-nipping solicits a feeding from the female (#513) at the Devils Gate nest in Southern California. Afterwards, the mother and chick settle down for a post-lunch preening session in front of the Condor cam.  

October 12, 2017

Condor Chick #871 Tests Tree Climbing Skills

Who is that way up there?! As you can see, California Condor chick #871 has become more adventurous as of late, and the activity is ramping up at the Devils Gate nest with each passing day. Could this mean that fledging is on the horizon? Only time will tell. 

October 05, 2017

#513 Feeds Her Hungry Chick In Devils Gate

California Condor chick #871 is quite persistent when she's hungry! Here, the chick's furious wing-begging and bill-nipping solicits a feeding from the female (#513) at the Devils Gate nest in Southern California. Afterwards, the mother and chick settle down for a post-lunch preening session in front of the Condor cam.  

October 03, 2017

Condor Chick #871 Shows Off Her Wing tag

Did you know that every California Condor in Southern California is fixed with a handmade wing-tag that's complete with a sewn-in radio transmitter and unique color/number combination? Biologists use these tags as important conservation management tools to track and identify individuals in the wild. Here, #871 shows off her tag, recently received her tag during her 4-month health check. 

October 16

4-month Health Check Report: Condor Chick Looking Healthy

The results are in! We’re excited to report that the Devils Gate chick received a healthy designation from biologists at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Santa Barbara Zoo during her 4-month health check on August 8, 2017. Weighing in at a sizable 16.5 pounds (adult females are typically 18 pounds), a feisty #871 showed normal behavior of a heathy condor nestling, and was considered to be in great overall condition. Now at over six months of age, #871 is nearly finished molting into her juvenile plumage and should be preparing to fledge at any time within the next 1–4 weeks! 

September 19

Condor Chick Condition Appears to Improve

Throughout the day today, #871's condition has appeared to improve, at least slightly. She has been seen manipulating branches, rocks, and dirt with her bill; stretching, preening, flapping; and ambling along the ledge and the former nest cavity. Biologists continue to monitor the camera and to evaluate her condition remotely, and we're thankful for their years of experience with these rare birds. We missed the first 3 hours of the day due to a camera equipment timing issue—not sure if it will be fixed by tomorrow, so don't be surprised if it's a late "live" time for the morning. 

September 18

Condor Chick Condition Update

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sent a team to the site to evaluate the chick, and while they were making the trek out to the remote site, condor biologists and zoo researchers kept a close eye on the cam. Around 12:30, the chick stood up for the first time today and wandered over to the camera, out of frame. Based on those movements, the condor team was both more optimistic about her condition and more cautious about intervening. It’s a tricky time to intervene—if the chick is too mobile, she could fledge too early and be injured in the process, and based on her mobility seen on cam, the decision was made to not intervene, but to continue to monitor her condition remotely. If her condition deteriorates, the response team will return to evaluate. Thanks for your thoughts and observations. 

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 Devils Gate nest, is located in the Los Padres National Forest, near Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge. The parents of the chick in the Devils Gate nest are mom #513 and dad #206. Dad #206 hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo in 1999 and mom #513 hatched at the World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise Idaho in 2009. This is their third nesting attempt together but they have yet to successfully fledge a chick.

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.