27 October 2003
Sophie Osborn— 27 October 2003 — in California Condor Restoration ShareGreetings Notes from the Field Readers. I am sure many of you have been anxiously awaiting news of Arizona’s first wild-hatched condor chick! Condor 305, as our chick is now known, is alive and well and seems increasingly anxious to leave the confines of its nest cave. Condor 305 is now 25 weeks old and we expect it to leave the nest any day. Its flight and body feathers are fully grown and it looks like any other juvenile condor except that its head is a paler gray and it has no wing tags! It spends much of its day resting in the front of the cave, awaiting its parents and its next meal. Each day, Condor 305 has one or two periods of tremendous activity when it flaps frenetically and runs out of view into the back of the cave then reappears running and flapping madly. It cranes its head looking for a place to climb and has given watching field crew members many tense moments as it clambers out onto a barely discernible ledge on the west side of its cave and flaps against the cliff. During such moments, we can’t help but feel that the chick’s fledging is going to happen by accident, when it loses its balance and is forced to take flight!
Parent Condors 123 and 127 continue to be wonderfully attentive to their chick’s needs. Although they spend little time in the area of the nest cave since they are busy searching for food for their nestling, one of the adults usually makes a brief visit to the cave each day to feed their awaiting chick. During my last trip to the nest site, I was treated to the sight of Condor 127 coming in to feed her nestling. Usually, Condor 127 spends only a few minutes in the cave feeding the chick, then takes off on a beeline back to her latest foraging area. This time, however, Condor 127 remained in the cave for several hours. She and the chick cuddled together on one side of the cave and preened each other and nibbled at each other’s faces. Later that day, Condor 123 came in and also spent more time than usual in the cave, feeding the chick then preening it and resting next to it for almost half an hour. It was delightful to see these interactions between the hard-working parents and their first baby condor. Our newest condor should be taking its first flight any day! We will keep you posted.
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