Field Notes 2004
Field Notes for July 2004
Wild Chicks Continue to Thrive
Nest watchers report good feather growth on the three wild chicks. The chicks spend their time flapping their growing wings and playing with discarded feathers. The chicks are three months old and not expected to leave the nest (fledge) until they are six months old. All involved hope that this year a chick will fledge.
Field Notes for June 2004
7 Condors transferred to Big Sur
On the 29th of June, the young condor juveniles being held in the flight pen were transferred to Big Sur. Due to the increased fire danger it was felt the birds should be moved. Ventana Wilderness Society agreed to take the birds and release them at Big Sur in the Fall.
Condor Chick Passes Physical
This year 111 & 125 again have a chick and a team consisting of Cynthia Springfield, LA Zoo Veterinarian, Mike Clark, LA Zoo condor keeper, Allan Mee nesting researcher and Mike Stockton, FWS Supervising Wildlife Biologist went into the nest to examine the chick on June 25. Both the nest and the chick were clean with no debris in either. The chick was measured, blood was drawn and West Nile Virus vaccine was administered. The team was reassured to find the chick in excellent health and at a good stage of development for a 2 month old chick. A team will go into the nest again when the chick is 4 months old to attach numbered tags and transmitters. This will enable the field crew to track it's movements when it fledges at about 6 months of age. 111 & 125's prior year chick died due to complications from ingesting debris fed to it by the parents.
Another Successful Trapping
Twenty-two condors were trapped June 15 & 16. Tags and transmitters were changed for those that needed them, all lead levels were low on the field test kits and lab results. The birds received boosters for West Nile Virus. The field crew from the Ventana Wilderness Society came down to help along with Vets from the San Diego Zoo, the condor keepers from LA Zoo and keepers from Santa Barbara Zoo. With so many condors needing to be trapped, the extra help made quick work of a large project.
Field Notes for May 2004
We have had some amazing volunteers helping with the program this
month. Dave Anderberg spends many days a week observing condors in the San
Gabriel Mountains. He is equipped with a radio and telemetry equipment and
keeps the field crew informed on condor movements in that area. Dan Milius
traveled from northern California to build a blind for a feeding site. He
spent a week at the Refuge and produced an excellent structure for the biologists
to observe the birds from. Long time volunteers Anthony Prieto and Jan Hamber
assisted with field operations. A temporary decline in intern applications
left the crews short handed and the efforts of these volunteers helped out
when it was most needed.
Was It A Bear?
Field Notes for April 2004
at Santa Barbara Earth Day
Jeff Bridges, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Jackson Browne, Kenny Logins and Hopper Mountain National Wildlife Refuge Complex staff made an appearance at the annual Earth Day event in Santa Barbara.
Visitors to the Refuge
Sunday, April 18, the LA Audubon chapter visited the Refuge and were rewarded with a view of about 30 condors flying, perching and feeding. The next week an author, a Fillmore City councilwoman and a visitor from Bulgaria were taken up to the Refuge where they saw many condors soaring overhead and got a rare treat when AC9 and another adult condor flew close enough over to get a good look.
All Three Chicks Hatch
The first of the chicks to emerge from its shell was reported by observers on Friday, April 9; the second chick on Easter Sunday, April 11; and the third chick on Thursday, April 22. The parents of the chicks have varied backgrounds. Two of the females were released in Big Sur, and while most of the Big Sur birds travel back and forth between southern and central California, these two have stayed for more than three years. One of the males is 24 year old, AC9 who was the last wild condor brought in from the wild in 1987 and after fifteen years in the captive breeding program he was released back into the wild 01 May 2002. AC9 was captured on Easter Sunday in 1987 and his first chick since being released, was hatched on Easter Sunday.
“To have an original wild condor reproducing again in the wild after 17 years is very gratifying, we have come full circle. When this same bird was captured in 1987, and no California condors soared free, we faced an uncertain future.” stated Steve Thompson, Manager of the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s California-Nevada Operations Office.
Both the male and female condors will care for the chicks, only one parent will be in the nest at a time, oneparent looks for food while the other broods and feeds the chick. This will continue until the chick fledges (first flight), at about 6 months of age. The parents will stay with the chick for up eighteen months. Last year only one chick was produced in southern California and the chick died after 4 months. The first wild chick to survive past fledging was hatched last year in Arizona. That chick at 10 months is still with its parents and doing fine. Two condor pairs in Arizona are incubating eggs now; the chicks are due to hatch in mid to late May.
Field Notes for March 2004
Calling All Nest Watchers
The Eggs are Fertile!
Two Juveniles Transferred to Pinnacles
Staff from Ventana Wilderness Society and Pinnacles National Monument arrived at Hopper Mountain Refuge on March 3 to trap two of the eight juveniles being held in the Hopper flight pen. The two birds were transported to Pinnacles where they will be released in the Spring.
Field Notes for February 2004
Third Pair Lays Egg
Eggs, Eggs, Eggs
Another pair, which includes the original wild bird AC9 (#21), and female 192 have been exhibiting the same nesting behavior as 107 & 161. Both females in these pairings are first time breeders and first time breeding often results in infertile eggs. On the plus side for success is that both males have previously bred. If successful, the chicks will hatch in about 58 days which would be the second week of April. Two more pairs are expected to lay this year.
Field Notes for January 2004
Five Condors Trapped
After almost two months of trying, the last of the flock has finally been trapped, tags and transmitters changed and lead blood levels evaluated. AC9, an original wild bird is notoriously hard to trap. He was trapped and his lead levels were low. Juvenile male condor 239 weighed in at a whopping 25.4 pounds. Condors in the wild generally weigh between 17 and 25 lbs. with an average of about 21.
2004 Breeding Season Starts With a Breakup
AC9 Has Found a Mate
AC9, an original wild bird released in 2002 has paired up with female 192. 192 was released in Big Sur and has been in the Sespe/Hopper area for 3 years. The two have been seen copulating and exploring possible nest caves. AC9 is 24 years old and 192 is six. There are two other pairs being closely watched the 2002 parents male 98 and female 155 are still together along with the 2003 pair male 125 and female 111. There is a very good possibility of having 4 nests in the wild this year.
Hopper Biologists Lend Expertise to Pinnacles National Monument Release Site