Thom Lord— 3 January 2006 — in California Condor Restoration ShareHappy New Year, Notes from the Field Readers! After a somewhat difficult month of November, the year ended encouragingly on all fronts for the Condor Project. In addition to the complete recovery and return of Condor 350, December saw the addition of seven young birds to Arizona’s captive population (to be released in the upcoming year) and significant progress in the development of both of this year’s wild chicks.
As I described last month, wild-fledged Condor 350 had been captured and sent to The Raptor Center at the University of Minnesota for treatment of a broken wing. The bird was returned to Arizona at the beginning of December, and we placed it into a flight pen for observation and to allow the bird to exercise its newly-healed wing. Condor 350 should be back in the wild, where it belongs, in January.
In addition to Condor 350, Arizona’s temporarily captive condor population gained seven new individuals in December. On 14 December, Arizona Game and Fish biologist Kathy Sullivan joined Chris Parish, Eric Weis, and me on a trip to the Peregrine Fund’s World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. The WCBP houses the Peregrine Fund’s state-of-the-art condor breeding facility, which produced 20 healthy California Condor chicks this year (a remarkable feat, considering that there were only 22 condors in existence in 1982!). We brought seven of the 20 back to Arizona to prepare them for release, and we will return to Boise in the spring to transfer another group. The remainder will go to California for release in reintroduction projects there.
The biggest news this month, however, unquestionably came from the Grand Canyon, as the Arizona project gained its fifth wild-fledged condor! Condor 392 fledged from its nest cave below the South Rim of the Canyon between 22 and 23 December when it was first observed, making a few short but impressive flights in the following few days. Both of the bird’s parents located and fed the chick within two days of its fledging, and Condor 392 seems to have made it through its big leap intact and healthy. Condor 389, Arizona’s first wild-fledged condor this year, also appears to be doing very well, making progressively longer flights and still being very regularly visited by both parents. We all look forward to following the continued development of both of these chicks as we move into the beginning of another year and a new breeding season. We hope to have more chicks to report on in the upcoming months!
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