— 16 September 2008
— in California Condor Restoration
Greetings NFTF readers! The summer months have come to a close and our crew has been busy monitoring the condor population and preparing for the upcoming fall hunting seasons. The archery deer hunts have concluded on the Kaibab Plateau, as well as in the Kolob region of Southern Utah, providing the condor population with another great food source as offal piles are scattered throughout the forests capping off a successful archery hunt.
Condor 276 soaring with ravens.
Each year, although not too numerous, the birds always find these short lived sources of food usually by way of ravens and turkey vultures. I say “short lived” because these offal piles do not last long, as I have tracked birds to several different locations that enabled me to observe ravens, condors, turkey vultures, and even Bald and Golden Eagles all devouring these deer remains within minutes, leaving nothing left but a blood stain on the ground. It is this very same source of food that can poison a large group of these scavenging birds when it is tainted with lead ammunition fragments, highlighting the importance of using lead-free ammunition when hunting in these condor ranges.
During the 19 day archery deer hunt on the Kaibab Plateau our field crew tracked birds to six different offal pile locations (thanks to GPS satellite transmitters) that may have been overlooked due to the shortness of time that these individual birds stay in the specific location.
As the late autumn months quickly approach, and knowing that the majority of these days are spent trying to trap up the numerous condors that need transmitter replacements, we managed to squeeze in a release of two new condors to add to the free-flying population.
Transferring birds to pen for release.
Three-year-old Condors 383F and 384M were both produced at our World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho. Both birds were released on 11 September 2008 and have been doing great. After waiting several hours after the initial opening of the release-pen door, both birds took to the wing and managed to soar for wonderful first flights, before awkwardly landing on the ground as most first time flyers so often do. These first few days and weeks of freedom can be the most dangerous for these inexperienced birds, so our crew monitors them daily, watching great advances in survivorship as time goes on, especially with these two.
New condors being released in Arizona.
Both birds have been roosting in great locations, away from ground dwelling predators like coyotes, and Condor 383 waited just three days until flying back up to the release site to investigate and jostle for food amidst several other birds at our proffered carcass sites, and has returned each day since. Condor 384 has yet to fly back up to the carcasses at the time of writing, but has been showing a will to roost higher and higher each evening on the cliffs below, so hopefully it is just a matter of time. Stay tuned for updates on these two new releases, and the rest of our 66 bird free-flying population when the next NFTF post in a few weeks…..
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