What started as an observational study is now an active outreach program, as California condor nests are going on live streaming and available for the public to observe the rare birds hatch, grow and interact with their parents.
It took an exceptional effort for the team of biologists and staff to hike up the heavy equipment and install the webcams within the nest, but the results are very likely to be worth it.
The idea began in 2010, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) failed to catch a nest failing early on due to an injured chick. It brought on the high probability that the condors would benefit much more greatly if their homes were highly monitored in order to maintain and assure the safety or health of their young hatchlings.
Back in 1982, there were only 22 California condors in existence, which has led to all of them being brought into captivity in order to start a program that would put their population decline to a halt. With the combined effort of agencies, zoos and conservation groups, the rare birds went through an extensive and careful recovery by 1992.
Today, their hard work can be highly praised by bringing the California condor population up to 430 birds, half of which live in the wild, and 19 different nests. Among the 11 left active, webcams have been installed in two of them in order for specialists to track the younglings’ health, as well as provide the public the adorable view of the chicks stretching around their nests.
One is placed in southern California’s Hopper Mountain National Wildlife refuge, while another successfully films the activity of a nest in Ventana Wildlife Society’s Condor Sanctuary in central California, Big Sur. One of the couples observed are condors No. 111 and No. 509, who have been together since 2006.
No. 111 is a 21-year old female California condor, who has been breeding little hatchlings since 2001, and currently has four surviving offspring flying with the southern California flock. Along with her mate, No. 509, a 6 year old male, they are the first pair of condors who nested near a coastal redwood tree.
In May, the couple hatched two baby chicks, both females, dubbed No. 167 and No. 190, or more affectionately called “Kingpin” and “Redwood Queen”. Their nest is one of the two placed on display for both conservation groups and the general public to view.
It allows great and fascinating insight to the family of rare birds, a true testament to the efforts of agencies and groups that have managed to spark life once again for the California condors and drag them back from the edge of extinction.
Image source: kalw.org