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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
20 August 2003
Sophie Osborn — in California Condor Restoration    ShareGreetings Notes from the Field Readers! Details of the last few weeks will follow soon, but I thought you’d all appreciate a sneak preview of the recent exciting events in Arizona Condorland.

As you are all well aware, we have been saying that we have a condor nestling in a cave in the Grand Canyon for several months now. Although none of us had actually seen the chick, the parents’ behavior left us in no doubt that they had managed to hatch their first egg and were actively feeding their chick. Nevertheless, there is nothing quite as gratifying as seeing something with your own eyes. It is a grueling 24-mile round-trip hike to get a view of the condor cave (located in a portion of the Grand Canyon known as The Inferno!), so we had put it off until we thought the chick might be old enough to move to the front of the cave and allow us a quick glimpse.

On the night of August 15, Grand Canyon raptor biologist Chad Olson and I hiked the 12 miles into the canyon in the hopes of ensuring that the adults were still feeding their chick and maybe, if we were very lucky, of glimpsing the nestling. The following morning we hiked up a very steep slope, set up a spotting scope, and … saw the first condor chick hatched in Arizona in recorded history!! It was an indescribable, unforgettable thrill.

Our baby condor appears to be in wonderful health. We spent the day watching it preen, walk around the front of the cave, stretch its wings, and even flap a few times. It is active, alert, bright-eyed and curious. A passing butterfly and later a passing Turkey Vulture caught its eye and it cocked its head to watch them fly by far below its magnificent cave. The chick is about the size of a full-grown condor, yet is only just beginning to grow its flight and body feathers. It should be at least another two months before it is ready to leave its cave.

Our condor chick had recently been fed since it had a visibly full crop. On August 17, our second day of observations, we watched mother Condor 127 fly into the nest and feed her nestling, then beeline back toward the Kaibab Plateau, likely on another food-finding mission. It was tremendously gratifying to see how wonderfully the chick is being cared for by its first-time parents.

I will write about our adventure into the canyon in a more detailed installment soon. In the meantime time though, thank you all for making our work possible through your continued support of The Peregrine Fund’s condor restoration project and congratulations to you all on our baby condor!!!!

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