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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes
HOPPER MOUNTAIN NWRC: Biologists Perform Annual California Condor “Check-Up”
Region 8, December 5, 2008
A Hopper Mountain NWRC biologist performs blood tests on a California condor NOv. 19, 2008, with the help of a volunteers at the Bitter Creek NWR. (photo: Michael Woodbridge)
A Hopper Mountain NWRC biologist performs blood tests on a California condor NOv. 19, 2008, with the help of a volunteers at the Bitter Creek NWR. (photo: Michael Woodbridge) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Michael Woodbridge, Hopper Mountain NWRC
On November 19, biologists from the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex (NWRC) spent the day conducting routine medical checks of California condors at the flight pen located on the Bitter Creek National Wildlife Refuge (NWR).

The bird check-ups involve U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) biologists, along with program partners, trapping condors, performing measurements and blood tests, and then releasing the birds, pending favorable test results.  Testing of the birds includes checking blood lead levels and checking bird weights, tags and tracking devices.  If lead levels in a condor exceed acceptable limits, the bird is transported to the Los Angeles Zoo for treatment.

The Hopper Mountain NWRC depends on diverse partners to successfully carry out the California Condor Recovery Program.  Some of the partners assisting FWS with condor medical checks in Southern California include the Los Angeles Zoo, Santa Barbara Zoo, Ventana Wildlife Society, Pinnacles National Monument and San Diego Zoo, among others.

The November 19 bird medical check was the first of several that will take place during the coming weeks.  The check-ups are scheduled to occur after the hunting seasons have closed, when condors are more likely to have been exposed to lead.

Contact Info: Michael Woodbridge, 916-978-4445, michael_woodbridge@fws.gov