Service, Partners Launch Live Stream Video of California Condor Chick Hatching in the Wild

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service and our conservation partners have launched livestreaming cameras of an endangered California Condors nest near Hopper Moutain National Wildlife Refuge.

Welcome! You are watching U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Condor Webcam (below), one of the first two webcams to stream live video of California condors nesting in the wild. The nestcam shown below was installed last spring and will be broadcast again this year so we might be able to watch a chick hatch in the wild in real time. The camera is live-streaming from near the Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) in southern California. Another live streaming webcam managed by the Ventana Wildlife Society will broadcast from a remote area of Big Sur along the central California coast.

FEATURED WEBCAM

You are watching a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Condor Webcam, one
of the first webcam to stream live video of wild condors nesting and
hatching a chick. This camera was made possible through the financial
and technical support of the following project partners: U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, Santa Barbara Zoo, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and
Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, Disney Worldwide
Conservation Fund, and Friends of California Condors Wild and Free.
Photo Credit: USFWS

These cameras are tools allowing the viewer to see through the eyes of the team trying to save endangered condors in the wild.

“We’re eager and excited to not only be able to share this experience with the world, but also open up the opportunity for more people to learn about California condors, what makes them such remarkable birds, and draw attention to the very real threats they face in the wild,” said Joseph Brandt, condor biologist with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

"This live cam takes the viewer right into the nest cave with the condors to watch their behavior and hear the sounds they make," says Charles Eldermire, Bird Cams manager at the Cornell Lab. "We hope it will really raise awareness about these spectacular but highly endangered birds and the threats they face. We know from past experience that people form a real emotional connection to the birds they see on the cams as they witness a part of nature they’ve never seen before."

The egg was incubated as part of the California Condor Recovery Program’s captive breeding effort at Los Angeles Zoo, and replaced the California condor #111 and California condor #509 pair’s wild-laid egg that went missing in March. Biologists quickly mobilized to replace the missing egg with a dummy egg to ensure the male and female continued to incubate at the nest.

On April 2, the captive-bred egg was placed into the nest. The soon-to-be condor parents, 22-year-old female condor, California condor #111 and her seven-year-old mate, California condor #509, have been courting since fall of 2014, and hatched their first wild chick together in April 2015. Sadly, the pair’s first chick died from lead poisoning, a harsh reality of the man-made threat condors continue to face in the wild.

The Hopper Mountain NWR nest webcam was made possible through the financial and technical support of the following project partners: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Santa Barbara Zoo, Cornell Lab of Ornithology and Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology. Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund, and Friends of California Condors Wild and Free. The Big Sur nest webcam was made possible through the financial and technical support of the following project partners: Ventana Wildlife Society, Oakland Zoo and FedEx.

The spectacular but endangered California Condor is the largest bird in North America. These superb gliders travel widely to feed on carcasses of deer, pigs, cattle, sea lions, whales, and other animals. Pairs nest in caves high on cliff faces. The population fell to just 22 birds in the 1980s, but there are now some 230 free-flying birds in California, Arizona, and Baja California with another 160 in captivity. Lead poisoning remains a severe threat to their long-term prospects.

Nest Placement

Condors nest mainly in natural cavities or caves in cliffs, though they sometimes also use trees, such as coast redwood and, historically, the giant sequoia. (As the wild population grows, there is the possibility they may return to the sequoia groves in the Sierra Nevada.) Condors have multiple nesting sites and may switch sites between years. Females make the final decision on which nest location to use.

Nest Description

Condors lay their eggs directly on the dirt floor of a cliff ledge or cave, or they construct loose piles of debris from whatever is available at the nest site, such as gravel, leaves, bark, and bones. Nests have loosely defined boundaries and are usually about 3 feet across and up to 8 inches deep.