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The Peregrine Fund Notes From The Field
January/February 2008
Eddie Feltes — in California Condor Restoration    ShareGreetings NFTF readers! Our field crew here in Arizona concluded the 2007 season with an amazing effort in making sure that the whole free-flying population of 61 birds was alive and accounted for. For the first time in a handful of years we made it through, what is always our most trying period, without having a single mortality concluding the fall/winter months. This is a period when we document our highest annual rates of lead exposure in the condor population by testing blood lead levels in the field, and treating birds as necessary. Although we did still have to treat a large portion of our population for varying levels of exposure, we rang in the new year with good spirits and high hopes for the upcoming breeding season, which is currently in full swing.

It is always a favorite time of year for the crew here, as we all eagerly await the potential pairings of new, breeding age birds that begin sizing each other up and asserting dominance over one another, in hopes of gaining breeding rights with an equally dominant mate. Because of the condors’ ability to successfully breed with the same mate year after year, the soap opera like drama of the population comes to a spike each spring. Pair bonds develop over time, and in the case of the condor, it can take years. So far this year, Condor 127 and her mate Condor 123, are showing eager attempts at staking out nest cave locations in their territory amidst the towering red-wall cliffs of the Grand Canyon interior.

Condor 250 Soaring
Condor 250 Soaring
The established pair bond of female Condor 253 and male Condor 223 started taking form again this year with early displays and visits to their breeding territory of Marble Canyon in the Colorado River corridor. Dominant male Condor 158, the bird that some of you may recall last year had paired up with two different females that coincidentally may have attempted to nest in the same general area, has begun to show more interest in female Condor 195, over his previous mate, female Condor 133, that has laid two eggs over the past two years with Condor 158. And to make things a little more confusing, or more interesting depending on how you look at it, this is a result of very dominant male Condor 187 losing his mate, female Condor 136 this past summer, and now taking interest in courting “now-single” 12 –year-old female Condor 133 (the last bird remaining from our original release in Arizona back in 1996).

We have also been closely observing our first time potential pairs of condors, male Condor 162 with female Condor 281, and male Condor 193 with female Condor 241, that are all showing strong indication of taking their breeding interests one step further. But you will have to wait until next month’s NFTF to see what lies ahead…

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