Archive for April, 2009

California Condor Nest Discovered in Mexico

Posted at 12:09 pm April 18, 2009 by Yadira Galindo

Second Nest Suspected in Sierra San Pedro de Martir

juanvargasdescends_040809.jpgWearing a backpack filled with candling equipment and a harness, Juan Vargas, San Diego Zoo field biologist, rappelled 330 feet down a rocky cliff on the hunt for a rare and precious egg in Mexico’s wilderness.

On Wednesday, April 8, Vargas braved the heights and found the precious egg nestled in a cavity in the Sierra San Pedro de Martir National Park in Baja California, Mexico. It is only the third egg to be laid by a California condor in condoregginnest040809.jpgMexico since the San Diego Zoo reintroduced this critically endangered species to the area in 2002.

Documenting the egg search from another cliff, Mike Wallace, Ph.D., San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research scientist and California Condor Recovery Program team leader, said this condor pair laid an egg in the same nest in 2008, but the egg did not hatch.
condor284atentry_040809.jpg     “We suspected condor No. 284 laid an egg when she and her partner began making frequent trips to the area of the cave,” said Wallace. “We were excited when it was confirmed that the egg was fertile and may hatch in a couple of weeks.

The first condor pair, No. 261 and 217, to lay an egg in Mexico is also suspected of having an egg. If confirmed, this would be a historic event for conservation efforts. Prior to the 2002 reintroduction of this bird the last documented wild California condor in Mexico was spotted in the late 1930s. The California Condor Recovery Program joined forces with the Mexican government to reintroduce this species to its native habitat in the pristine mountain range where 15 condors now fly free.

The pair’s first egg was laid in 2007, but the chick disappeared from the nest one month later and was never found.

Condors reach breeding age at 5 years old. The condors in Baja California are just reaching maturity. Wallace believes additional pairs may begin to breed and lay eggs in 2010. An egg hatches after 57 days of incubation. A chick takes its first flight at approximately 6 months old, but it remains under the watchful eye of its parents for another two years.

The California Condor Recovery Program is implemented by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, zoos in the U.S. and Mexico, as well as U.S. and Mexican government agencies such as the Instituto Nacional de Ecología and NGOs. The world population of California condors is now more than 320 birds, half of which are flying free in the skies above California, Arizona and Baja California, Mexico. The condor breeding centers include the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo, The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey and Oregon Zoo.

The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is dedicated to the conservation of endangered species and their habitats. The organization focuses on conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, which includes a 900-acre native species reserve, and the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

Oregon Zoo Celebrates Hatching of Its First Spring Condor

Posted at 12:17 pm April 17, 2009 by admin

New condor chick brings species closer to recovery

041709_condoradult2.jpgPORTLAND, Ore. — The Oregon Zoo’s festive eggs are filled with something much more than Cadbury Creme this year - they’re filled with fledgling California condors!

The first condor chick of 2009 pecked through its shell the morning of April 14, signaling the start of another remarkable hatching season at the Zoo’s Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation. The chick is the offspring of Ojai and Atishwin and was hatched under the care of its foster parents, the male condor No. 189 and the female Squapuni.

“Each new hatch brings us one step closer to species recovery,” said Shawn St. Michael, Oregon Zoo condor curator. “Our program is relatively new, but growing in strength each year.”

Seven condor pairs produced eggs this year, and six of the eggs have proved fertile. The Zoo’s condor facility is currently home to 31 condors, not counting the new arrival, and has produced 19 fertile eggs since it was established in 2001. Of the 16 eggs already hatched, 15 chicks have survived.

Condors are the largest land birds in North America with wingspans of up to 10 feet and weight of 18 to 30 pounds. They are highly intelligent and inquisitive - and highly endangered.

041709_condoradult.jpgThe birds depend on their intelligence for survival and require a tremendous amount of parental investment in the wild. This is one of the reasons they have such a low productivity rate.

Normally, condors only lay a single egg every other year, but at the breeding centers this process can be sped up. If the egg is moved from the nest to an incubator for hatching, female condors will usually lay a second egg and sometimes a third. This procedure is known as double- or triple-clutching, and has dramatically increased condor numbers since the breeding program began.

These magnificent birds have a long history in Oregon, where archaeologists have unearthed 9,000-year-old condor bones from Native American middens. Condors were a common motif for the designs of Oregon’s Wasco people, who lived along the Columbia River between The Dalles and Cascade Locks. The condor was considered a guide to the native peoples and a key character in many myths.

The last condor seen in Oregon was near the town of Drain in 1904. Condors held out a little longer in California, but by 1987, only 17 remained in the wild. In an attempt to save the species, biologists decided to place the remaining condors in a breeding program. The California condor was one of the original animals included on the 1973 Endangered Species Act. Today, there are nearly 300 California condors counting those in captivity and in the wild.

The Oregon Zoo’s condor recovery efforts take place at the Jonsson Center for Wildlife Conservation, located in rural Clackamas County on Metro-owned open land. The remoteness of the facility minimizes the exposure of young condors to people, increasing the chances for zoo-hatched birds to survive and breed in the wild.

In 2001, the Oregon Zoo became the third zoo in the nation to join the California Condor Recovery Program. California condor breeding programs are also operated at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, Los Angeles Zoo and The Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey. The Oregon Zoo received The Wildlife Society’s conservation award in 2005 for “creating the nation’s fourth California condor breeding facility.”

For more information about the Oregon Zoo’s California condors, visit www.oregonzoo.org/Condors/index.htm.

The zoo is a service of Metro and is dedicated to its mission to inspire the community to create a better future for wildlife. Committed to conservation, the zoo is currently working to save endangered California condors, Washington’s pygmy rabbits, Oregon silverspot butterflies, western pond turtles, and Oregon spotted frogs. Other projects include studies on black rhinos, Asian elephants, polar bears and bats.

The zoo opens at 9 a.m. daily and is located five minutes from downtown Portland, just off Highway 26. The zoo is also accessible by MAX light rail line. Zoo visitors are encouraged to ride MAX or take TriMet bus No. 63. Visitors who take the bus or MAX receive $1 off zoo admission. Call TriMet Customer Service, 503-238-RIDE (7433), or visit www.trimet.org for fare and route information.

General admission is $9.75 (12-64), seniors $8.25 (65+), children $6.75 (3-11), and infants 2 and under are free; 25 cents of the admission price helps fund regional conservation projects through the zoo’s Future for Wildlife program. A parking fee of $2 per car is also required. Additional information is available at www.oregonzoo.org or by calling 503-226-1561.

Contacts: Bill LaMarche 503-220-2448 (office) or 503-497-5812 (pager)
Linda D’Ae-Smith 503-220-5716 (office) or 503-441-7573 (pager)

San Diego Condor Breeding Program to Reach Milestone

Posted at 11:49 am April 1, 2009 by Yadira Galindo

FIRST CHICKS OF 2009 SEASON HATCH AT THE WILD ANIMAL PARK

SAN DIEGO - Beginning March 27, two California condor chicks hatched over the past few days and a third chick was beginning to emerge Wednesday at the San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park. The fourth chick to hatch will be the 150th California condor produced since the Wild Animal Park began breeding this critically endangered species 27 years ago.

At least seven chicks are expected to hatch in the next few of months. The first egg laid by a condor pair at the Park is artificially incubated. Condor keepers serve as foster parents using a condor puppet to raise the chicks. The parents then lay a second egg and raise that chick themselves.

This process has led to a very successful breeding and release program. The California condor was near extinction in the 1980s when the world population of this species hit a low of 22 individuals. All of the birds were placed into a breeding program that included the Wild Animal Park. Thanks to a multi-agency effort, today the condor population includes more than 320 birds; more than half of them have been released back into the California, Arizona and Mexico wilderness.

A new zip-line experience at the Park, Flightline, opens in April with one-third of profits directly benefiting the San Diego Zoo’s work saving the California condor. Flightline will take guests on a ride for 2/3 of a mile at 400 feet above Asian and African animal exhibits, allowing adventurers to mimic the experience of a bird in flight.

The California Condor Recovery Program is built upon a foundation of private and public partnerships. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service implements the recovery program in partnership with other U.S. and Mexican government agencies, the San Diego Zoo, Los Angeles Zoo, The Peregrine Fund, Oregon Zoo, Chapultepec Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Ventana Wilderness Society, among others.

The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park is operated by the not-for-profit San Diego Zoo and includes a 900-acre native species reserve. The San Diego Zoo focuses on the conservation of endangered species and their habitats, engages in conservation and research work around the globe, educates millions of individuals a year about wildlife, and maintains accredited horticultural, animal, library and photo collections. The Zoo also manages the San Diego Zoo’s Institute for Conservation Research. The important conservation and science work of these entities is supported in part by The Foundation of the Zoological Society of San Diego.

CONTACT: 619-685-3291
WEB SITE: http://www.sandiegozoo.org