Thom Lord— 2 May 2006 — in California Condor Restoration ShareGreetings, Notes from the Field readers! Fortunately for the crewmembers on the condor project, things were a bit less hectic in April than they had been in the preceding months of 2006. Although the birds did use the beautiful spring weather to begin traveling extensively once again, we’ve come to expect that transition, and the month proceeded primarily as we would have hoped. We continued observations on our two remaining condor nests, both of which were active through the end of the month, in addition to monitoring the encouraging progress of both of last year’s wild-fledged chicks.
As I described in last month’s NFTF, one of our three nesting pairs this season experienced the unfortunate removal of male Condor 122, that we were forced to capture and hold in captivity for treatment of advanced lead poisoning. The good news is that Condor 122 is still alive and in stable condition, but he will likely be in recovery for some time to come. His mate, Condor 119, seemed to make an effort at tending the nest by herself, but was eventually forced to abandon it. Condor pairs typically share nest duties equally, and although we attempted to help Condor 119 by placing food in the area of the nest cave, it would have required a Herculean effort on her part to successfully incubate an egg and rear a chick by herself. When she finally returned to the release site, confirming that the nest had failed, we were disappointed but not very surprised. The most important thing in the unfortunate situation is that Condor 122 is still alive, and will hopefully be able to breed in the upcoming season. We have the same hope for Condor 134, the other bird still being treated, who also seems to be steadily improving.
Meanwhile, the remaining two condor nests in Arizona showed steady activity throughout the month. Both condors in each pair tended their respective nests regularly, precisely the behavior that we would hope to see. If successful, both eggs are expected to hatch by early May. I’ll let you know what happens in next month’s NFTF!
Along with observations of the current nesting birds, we continued to monitor the successfully fledged chicks from the previous breeding season. Both have been very active, with a number of documented flights away from their immediate natal areas. We were able to capture one of the chicks, Condor 389, in late March. The bird was released after tagging, West Nile Virus vaccination, and a blood draw for DNA analysis. It seemed unfazed by the potentially traumatic experience, and resumed feeding with the rest of the flock shortly after its release. Condor 392, the other wild-fledged chick from 2005, hasn’t yet made it from the Grand Canyon to the release site. However, we have observed it flying extensively in the canyon, both by itself and with other condors.
Finally, we had some personnel changes in the field crew in April. We were pleased to welcome new crewmember Justin Jones, who has worked for The Peregrine Fund previously on the Aplomado Falcon reintroduction project in Texas. We were sad to see three of our co-workers and friends head on to new adventures, but we wish Tim Hauck, Dave McGraw, and Kathryn Parmentier the best of luck in their future endeavors. Thanks for all of your hard work!
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