Can the endangered birds recover from the brink of extinction?
FRISCO — California condors have been hovering on the brink of extinction for decades. But the majestic birds may be on the verge of making a comeback in southern Utah, National Park Service biologists said last week, announcing the first-ever birth of a condor chick in Zion National Park.
Without revealing the exact location to the public, biologists had been monitoring a rock cavity in a remote corner of the park for several weeks where they observed the nesting pair. Finally, on June 25, the condor chick made its first appearance at the edge of the nest.
The young bird won’t be going anywhere soon. The chick won’t try to fly until November or December. California condors take about six months to fledge, the longest of any North American bird, according to Keith Day, regional wildlife biologist for the Utah Division of Wildlife Resources. The parents will spend the next year raising the chick. California condors typically produce one chick every other year, Day said, so they probably won’t nest again until the early months of 2016.
This is the first documented occurrence of California condors raising a chick in Utah, said Eddie Feltes, condor project manager with The Peregrine Fund. The goal of resource managers now is to allow the chick to grow and develop in a natural environment without significant human influence, keep it safe, and to protect park resources in the area where the chick is located.
Those who are curious to see what the chick might look like should visit the condor camera at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at http://www.sandiegozooglobal.org/video/condor_cam. The zoo had a condor hatch in their rearing facility within days of this wild-born condor.
It was only a matter of time before the birds started nesting in Utah, said Chris Parish, condor field project supervisor with The Peregrine Fund.
“There is great habitat in Utah. It didn’t take long for the condors to find it,” Parish said.