PAICINES (CBS SF / AP) – An endangered condor that hatched from its egg in Pinnacles National Park last month, making it the newest member of the park’s massive bird recovery program.
The egg hatched on April 12 after two months of 24/7 incubation by both parents protecting their fragile egg from the elements and potential predators, Park Ranger said in a social media post.
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A video camera is installed in their nest to help with surveillance, and videos shared by the National Park Service this week show one parent feeding the fluffy chick while the other stands guard at the entrance to their refuge.
Since 2003, park rangers at Pinnacles, a 26,000-acre park in rural San Benito County, about 120 miles south of San Francisco, and wildlife biologists from the Ventana Wildlife Society have managed a captive-bred California condor release site in the park.
The two parents have been a couple for about five years and this is their third child. There are 589 condors managed by the park. The other parent – 569 – is administered by the Ventana Wildlife Society.
“Condors usually have only one chick every two years. 589 and 569 are clearly doing their part to help their species and maintain their status as a Pinnacles power couple! “Park Ranger wrote.
The chick, named 1078, has to survive in the nest for another six months, relying completely on its parents for food, shelter, and companionship.
“If all goes well, 1078 will learn to fly in mid-October and then spend up to another year with his parents, slowly gaining more independence, as they show how to find food and integrate into the wild herd of condors,” said Park officials wrote.
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The condor, one of the largest birds in the world with a wingspan of up to 3 meters, once patrolled the skies from Mexico to British Columbia. However, in the 1970s, the population fell to the brink of extinction due to lead poisoning, hunting, and habitat destruction.
In the 1980s, wildlife officials captured the last 22 condors and brought them to San Diego and Los Angeles zoos for protection and captive breeding. After up to a year in the zoo, the chicks are taken to a release site such as Pinnacles National Park.
There and in other protected areas they eat, breed and raise their own chicks under the close observation of wildlife biologists, who equip them with a visual ID and at least one radio transmitter. Some birds also receive GPS transmitters.
California condors have made a comeback in the wild and now occupy parts of California’s Central Coast, Arizona, Utah, and Baja California, Mexico. The total wild population now numbers more than 300 birds.
Condors can live for 60 years and fly long distances, which is why their range can extend to several states.
However, the vultures are still exposed to threats from mercury and the pesticide DDT. Biologists say the greatest danger is lead ammunition, which can poison them if they eat dead animals shot with lead bullets. California banned the use of lead ammunition near condor feeding grounds and lead bullets on all hunts in 2019 in 2008.
The birds have been protected as an endangered species by federal law since 1967 and California law since 1971.
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