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HOPPER MOUNTAIN NWR: Wild California Condor Chick Eaten By Bear in Southern California
California-Nevada Offices , June 12, 2009
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The 3 Canyons Chick days after birth. It was 28 days old when the bear incident occurred (photo: Joseph Brandt, USFWS).
The 3 Canyons Chick days after birth. It was 28 days old when the bear incident occurred (photo: Joseph Brandt, USFWS). - Photo Credit: n/a
A proud parent guards its newly-hatched chick from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologists (photo: Joseph Brandt, USFWS)
A proud parent guards its newly-hatched chick from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologists (photo: Joseph Brandt, USFWS) - Photo Credit: n/a

by Michael Woodbridge, Hopper Mountain NWR
While performing routine observation of a California condor nest June 12, 2009, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) Student Wildlife Biologist Lisa Cox witnessed a black bear entering the sandstone nest cavity located just outside of Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge.  Unlike most condor nests, the Three Canyons nest was accessible to FWS biologists by foot and did not require technical rope use.

 

At the time, a 28-day-old condor chick (FW409; parents SB#98 and SB#289), was present in the nest and both parents were in the immediate nest area.  The bear was not in view while in the nest and was not observed again until it was seen moving away from the nest an hour later.  After the bear left, the parent birds remained in the area but did not enter the nest during the subsequent observations.

 

The following day, a FWS team of condor biologists was dispatched to the nest with the intent to assess the status of the nest and recover any remains. The entry revealed an empty nest with very little sign of the incident. Upon sifting the substrate of the nest, two pieces of bone were recovered that are suspected to have originated from FW409. These have been submitted for inspection and analysis to the San Diego Zoo.  SB#98 was also perched near the nest cavity while the nest entry team was present.  FW409 was a wild laid egg from the Southern California population.

 

This is believed to be the first recorded occurrence of a California condor chick predation by a black bear.  Typically, condors choose nest sites located on sandstone cliff faces that are inaccessible by terrestrial predators.


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



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