Hello Condor Enthusiasts,
Here's a quick update before I disappear for the winter. As usual, highlights are in bold blue.
Population numbers from the US Fish & Wildlife Service, as of October 31, 2011:
394 - World Total
189 - Captive Population (including birds temporarily in captivity)
205 - Wild Population
111 - California (including 2 not-yet-fledged chicks in Southern California as of that date)
23 - Baja California, Mexico (including one new fledgling!)
71 - Arizona/Utah (now 73 after 2 birds were released 11/8/11)
Arizona Breeding Season News:
Following the fortunes of the California condor population can be an emotional roller coaster!The month of November offered rather a thrill ride for those watching for the fledging of chick #634, offspring of 234M/4 and 280F/80 in the Battleship formation below Grand Canyon Village.
On November 20, Sjors the long-time NPS volunteer at the bottom of Grand Canyon, was doing nest watch from the Tonto plateau.He gives the following (lightly edited) account:
At exactly 3:38 p.m. I am not sure if 634 jumped or got to the point of no return. Either way, 634 was now in flight. The flight was more like a controlled fall, more fall than control. It first was swinging back and forth falling like a wet leaf. Half way down the 400-foot Redwall cliff, 634 caught itself and went into a short horizontal glide. "Oh my god it's flying!" I thought. It even made a perfect U-turn gliding back. Then 634 made 3 attempts to land on the face of the cliff, but it was moving too fast to land. I could see 634 tap the wall with each attempt. The attempts threw 634 off its beautiful glide back into the scary controlled fall. Just 2 meters before reaching the very bottom of the Redwall cliff, the chick disappeared behind some bushes. So I could not witness the landing. By the speed 634 was coming down I would guess it was a hard landing or a crash. So I did not know the fate of 634. Was it injured? Was it alive?
The story continues, as told by Sjors:
I watched rest of the day and most of the next day, Nov 21, with no sign of 634. Dad 234 did come back and landed 20 meters above where 634 was last seen. So at least I knew 234 had found 634.
Nov 23 - Rangers Steve Rice and Emily Davis visited Horn Creek, Grand Canyon NP. They spotted a condor at the bottom of the Redwall. Because of distance they were unable to identify if it was the chick or one of the parents.
Nov 25 and 26 - I returned to Horn and was able to confirm the condor at the base of the Redwall was Chick 634. I watch it flap its wings, hop around, climb up the cliff, and take a short flight. Wings and legs were fine. Chick 634 was O.K.
In later days I heard that 634 made it back up to the safety of the cliffs. Both parents have been around.
Grand Canyon National Park Wildlife Biologist Janice Stroud-Settles expresses thanks to Sjors, to Canyon District Ranger Steve Rice, and to Wildlife Biologist Adia Sovie.All have helped to monitor 634 since its fledging.She reports that the National Park Service and The Peregrine Fund will continue to monitor the chick through the winter months.
Park Ranger Condor Talks:
Condor Talks have been discontinued for the winter in Grand Canyon National Park, but will most likely start up again on the South Rim on March 1, 2012.
On "Condor Cliffs"
For condor news over the winter, as always you can keep an eye on The Peregrine Fund's "Condor Cliffs" Facebook page at www.facebook.com/CondorCliffs.
Recent entries tell of the Vermilion Cliffs release November 8 of two new condors, now added to the attached chart.They are: condor 541F/J4, a 2-year-old female from The Peregrine Fund's World Center for Birds of Prey in Boise, Idaho, and condor 530M/30, a 2-year-old male from the Los Angeles Zoo.
The Vermilion Cliffs fledgling, #610 is reported as doing well and there are photos to see on Condor Cliffs.
Updated Condor Chart
I've updated the chart of California Condors in AZ/UT by Tag # as of December 16, 2011. The chart may be downloaded here.
Have a great winter!
Grand Canyon National Park