Like the other ten California condor eggs laid this season, egg #0810 was pulled to artificial incubation so its progress could be closely monitored. On day 8 of incubation, the signs of a possible embryo malposition (upside-down, opposite of what is normal) were noted in the records.
On day 53, we candled the egg to check its progress. We were excited to hear “clicking” which is the sound emitted when the chick is breathing in the air cell. We were unsure of the chick’s position so we decided to radiograph the egg as a precaution and to confirm its position in the egg. On day 54 we carefully placed the egg in a portable brooder and took it to the hospital where radiographs confirmed an upside-down malposition. We were ready to manually pip the egg on day 55, but the chick pipped on its own!
After 72 hours of carefully observing the chick’s progress, which was minimal, it was time to help our little chick out of its shell. We carefully pulled pieces of the shell away, checking for active blood vessels, there were none. Once the egg was capped, instead of the chick sliding out of the egg, it was still tightly stuck and we had to remove more shell to free the chick from the egg. Much to our surprise the yolk sac was completely drawn into the abdomen and the seal was puffy, but good. The chick also had a small laceration on the top of its beak from trying so hard to free itself from its egg. We had an adorable, healthy condor chick!
All of our hard work and stringent protocols really paid off for egg #0810. We named him “Awexa” which means “bee” in Barbareno Chumash. He is now 112 days old and is very energetic and enthusiastic. Soon he will receive his numbered wing tags, and be fledged into a pen with “Pismo” and three other puppet reared chicks. “Pismo” is our mentor condor, who will teach our young cohort how to act like a condor. Sometime next spring or summer the four chicks will be shipped to the Baja California release site where they will be released into the wild.
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