Thom Lord— 5 March 2007 — in California Condor Restoration ShareGreetings, Notes from the Field readers! The movements of Arizona’s condor population calmed a bit in February, with most of the birds spending an increasing amount of time between the release site and the Colorado River corridor. A notable exception to this, however, was the expanding activity of established condor pairs as breeding season marched on. At least five strong pairs have developed so far this year, and we have seen extensive courtship and nest-searching behavior in each. Two of the pairs have produced wild chicks in previous years, and two more have incubated eggs in the past. The previous breeding experience in these four pairs bodes particularly well for their chances at success this season, and we’re eagerly and optimistically watching as they make their current attempts.
Indeed, on 22 February, our optimism was bolstered by an observation made by Peregrine Fund biologist Eddie Feltes. In routine tracking that day, Eddie noticed that Condor 158 was traveling without his mate, Condor 133. Realizing that this behavior was potentially significant at this time of year, Eddie went directly to the nest cave that the pair had used in previous years. Upon approaching the area of the cave, he saw Condor 133 soaring in the distance. Remaining hidden from view, Eddie watched as Condor 133 circled a few times and entered the nest cave. Eddie continued his observation of the cave, and it soon became apparent that Condor 133 was incubating an egg! This is the first confirmed egg of the season, and was laid earlier in the year than we’ve ever seen in Arizona. If all goes well, we hope to see a tiny white condor chick emerge sometime in mid-April. Based on behavioral observations of the remaining breeding birds, we’re hoping to be able to confirm additional eggs very soon.
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