Archive for October, 2008

California Condors to Be Released Nov. 1

Posted at 11:18 am October 28, 2008 by Yadira Galindo

A wonderful experience awaits bird lovers. Two juvenile California condors will be released at Pinnacles National Monument in Monterey County at 10 a.m. on Saturday, November 1. The public can witness the first free flight of these birds from a viewing area located approximately three-quarters of a mile from the release site. Even if you’ve seen a condor in flight, seeing a juvenile bird spread its wings and use thermals to maneuver its new surroundings for the first time is an unforgettable moment. And at moments a bit comedic!

These condors were hatched at the Los Angeles Zoo and the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey, two of the four California Condor Recovery Program’s breeding centers. The San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park and Oregon Zoo make up the other two breeding sites.

The release will take place on the east side of Pinnacles National Monument off of Highway 25. Shuttle services from designated parking areas will transport guests to within 1.5 miles of the viewing area. The National Park Service suggests bringing spotting scopes, binoculars, water, layered clothing, and good hiking shoes, and carpooling is recommended, as parking is limited. Arrival between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. is advisable in order to reach the viewing area before 10 a.m. Entrance fees for the day have been waived for the release.

The newly released condors will join 15 other wild California condors already living in the national park. Today, there are approximately 160 condors flying free in California, Arizona, and Baja California, Mexico. The birds will be “soft released” through a double-door trap, but because condors have been known to sit still despite seeing the doors open, there is a chance that no birds will enter the trap and fly out on the day of the release.

On one such occasion at the Baja California release site, I waited with condor biologists for hours before the first bird finally exited through the trap doors. Once he was out he seemed a bit clumsy in the air with long, hard flaps of his wings. He was followed shortly thereafter by a second and third bird both of which seemed to land with a thump on a pine tree. The fourth and final bird seemed destined to remain indoors until the sight of other flying condors seemed to finally coax it out of its slumber. It was a long day of waiting so please have patience. This is, after all, like leaving for college for the first time, and by the looks of it, like taking their training wheels off. Happy condor watching!


Posted at 4:09 pm October 20, 2008 by Yadira Galindo


One year after the Witch Creek wildfire burned the a condor breeding aviary at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, keepers Debbie Marlow and Sheila Murphy released a female California condor into the rebuilt facility. On Oct. 20, 2007 five California condors and two Andean condors were safely evacuated from the Wild Animal Park 12 hours before the fire burned through sections of the Park leaving the structure in piles of ash and melted metal. On Monday Ojja, the female condor, and her mate, Simerrye, were returned to their home along with an Andean condor pair and their 8-month-old chick.

First Look at Miracle Condor Chick

Posted at 4:03 pm October 8, 2008 by Yadira Galindo

High on the top of a burnt redwood tree sits a nest large enough to hold a California condor. The tree lays in the path of this summer’s devastating wildfire that scorched thousands of acres in Big Sur, California, and in this case condor territory. The fire threatened the three condor nests in the area, each with a chick. The nest in the redwood felt the most heat – literally. Two chicks were accounted for soon after the fire, but for several weeks condor biologists couldn’t get to the nest to see if the chick in the redwood tree had survived. The outlook looked grim when biologists saw the redwood tree from a helicopter, burned nearly to the top. The paths were impassable for quite some time, but when the parent condors returned to the nest it was a good sign. The field biologists were optimistic because the parents would not return to a nest if the chick was dead. Recently, biologists with the Ventana Wildlife Society and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service climbed the three and got their first look at the surviving chick – a miracle in the depth of a devastating wildfire.

Lead Claims Another Condor

Posted at 4:34 pm October 1, 2008 by Yadira Galindo

Condor No. 336 died of lead poisoning in September despite the efforts of wildlife biologists to save the 4-year-old bird. The loss of this bird to lead poisoning is tragic as she was just about to reach breeding age. The loss of even one California condor, when the population is just a little more than 330 birds, is devastating to the California Condor Recovery Program.